First-year coach Mike Durham is hoping defense is the Lady Raiders’ strong suit this year, especially with a slew of returning players after a not-so-great 2011-2012 slate.
Seniors Megan Collins, post, and Tavi Parris, shooting guard, are expected to provide leadership. Collins, a selection to The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Girls Basketball Team as a junior, averaged 13.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last season as Southeast finished 1-25.
“We didn’t have a lot of success last year and we’ve got to get them back thinking, ‘We can win,’” said Durham, who takes over for Elizabeth Crane, who resigned after last season.
Durham wants defense, both in the front and back court, to be the focus for Southeast, which makes the move from Region 7-3A to 7-4A.
“That’s what we preach,” he said. “Defense is the key. That’s what can’t take the night off. ... If you play strong defense, then you’ll give yourself a chance. If you protect the ball, then you’ll give yourself a chance.”
Four junior posts — Serena Ramsey, Wendy Perez, Brooke Hasty and Tiffany Robertson — provide plenty of interior depth. Judelle Herrera, a sophomore, should see a lot of minutes at point guard after experiencing court time as a freshman. Senior guards Angelica Herrera, Brittany Painter and Samantha Gravitt also will contribute.
“I think our ball handling and stuff has gotten better,” Durham said. “It’s things that don’t happen overnight that we’re working on. If I took over the state championship team, then I’d still be doing these things.”
Considering last year’s struggles, Durham left the team goals open-ended and only wants to see improvement from the start to the finish of the schedule.
“If we play hard, then I think we’re going to win some ballgames,” he said.
The Lady Raiders’ season opens Nov. 23 in the Southeast Hoopfest. They have a bye into the second round of the championship bracket and will take on the winner of Meigs County (Tenn.) and Tri-Cities, who play two days prior in the opening round.
— Written by The Daily Citizen sports writers Devin Golden and Chris Whitfield and correspondents Larry Fleming, Dave Gordon and Doug Hawley.