Fresh start might be a great way to describe Jim Case’s attitude coming into his first season leading Southeast’s boys program. The school’s gym floor has been refurbished and repainted and the locker rooms have been updated.
Case, previously an 11-year assistant for Dalton High’s boys and girls, also hopes the Raiders will use his infusion of enthusiasm and style to start fresh after going 4-22 last season.
Using the dribble-drive offense made popular by the Kentucky Wildcats, Case said the Raiders will be “upbeat” on offense and defense.
“We’re going to emphasize a lot of pressure,” he said. “We’re going to be up and down the floor.”
Senior Rhett Harper will bring leadership and maturity as a point guard and “leads the floor well,” Case said. Sophomore Ty Pendley will show strong shooting skills but excels as a defender, too.
Other expected contributors are seniors Cole Gillean, Jonathon Sanchez, Nick Stuard and Hunter Young, junior Chaz Payne and sophomore Noah Ramsey.
“Everyone’s enjoyed our change of style,” Case said. “I think the fans will enjoy it, too.”
For the Lady Raiders, second-year coach Mike Durham believes strong team competition, great effort and relentless pressure could help his team be strong again this year after a 15-11 finish last season. That was a vast improvement over the one-win campaign in 2011-12.
Crickett Wyatt, a 5-7 junior, should spearhead the Lady Raiders scoring as she was the second-leading scorer last year. She’s recovering from a knee injury, but Durham is confident she and 5-10 senior post Wendy Perez will combine as team leaders.
On the outside, sophomore Sidney Covington and junior Juddelle Herrera will do much of the ball handling. More help at guard will come from sophomores Tori Brock and Angie Purkey.
Durham is expecting strong post play from Emily Beck, Serena Ramsey, Gabby Gonzales and Rachel Smedley. Miranda Bates will also see time on the wing.
“We’ve got to play hard and limit our mistakes and I think we’ve got a decent shot,” Durham said. “Crickett and Wendy had a great summer. I like to play nine to 10 girls. And I like to have two teams ready so they all say, ‘I need to be getting it done.’ Every year, I expect more out of the girls.”
Southeast’s season tips off at 6 p.m Tuesday at home against Gilmer.
Compiled by sports writers Devin Golden and Chris Whitfield and correspondents Larry Fleming, Dave Gordon, Doug Hawley and Jeff Rancudo.