Slowly but surely though the injuries are subsiding, and the Raiders have been playing their best ball of the season in January. Winners of five straight this month head coach Fredrick Hurt hopes the last two weeks are a sign of things to come.
“It isn’t the start we had hoped for, that’s for sure. But the thought is that all this adversity will make us stronger by the end of the year e,” said Hurt, now in his fifth year at the end of the Raiders’ bench. “Teams deal with [injuries] all the time, it just happened to our main guys and we’ve had to endure it.”
Injuries included the loss of All-State guard Ty Toney in the first game of the season and his backcourt mate Tyler Lentz in December. Couple the loss of two starting guards with what Hurt called the toughest schedule in the team’s history, and the early struggles are understandable.
Through it all though the Raiders played well when the games have mattered most, amassing a 5-1 record in 6AAAAAA play and currently sitting in a tie for first place with Chattahoochee.
“We’re closer to full strength right now that we have been all year and we are getting a little better and better each week. We’re still working on consistency as a group, but we have some seniors and experienced players to lean on there which helps,” said the Alpharetta coach.
The experience revolves around a senior laden roster that includes a trio of players that have started since their sophomore seasons — Toney, Carlos Burse and Bjorn Walker.
Toney, the team’s MVP last season, is averaging 16.1 points per game since his return from injury. Walker, a 6-foot-5 post player, leads the team in the paint with 13.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Burse provides an athletic option on the wing and fellow seniors Connor Ramsey (10.6 points per game) and Lentz bring scoring threats beyond the arc.
“If we keep these guys healthy I really like our chances to make another run in the playoffs. That’s been our aiming point since last season and if we hit that peak at the right time we have a chance to do so,” said Hurt.