Despite the result not being in favor of coach Byron Gray and his second-year program at Riverdale Ridge against No. 1 seed Resurrection Christian March 6, the Ravens have nothing but excitement …
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Despite the result not being in favor of coach Byron Gray and his second-year program at Riverdale Ridge against No. 1 seed Resurrection Christian March 6, the Ravens have nothing but excitement building around this youthful, talented group going forward.
Making their first-ever appearance in the 3A state playoffs Friday, a 7-game win improvement from the year prior has Gray and his squad ready to move up to 4A play starting in November.
“Our journey really begins now, to get better,” Gray said after the 89-38 defeat. “They (Ravens) have the athleticism, they have the height, it’s really now about getting better, so that’s the one thing I take away. I’m not really looking at the scoreboard per se, they are the No. 1 team in the state for a reason. We felt we had a chance, but we knew if we turned the ball over, there was no chance.”
As four freshmen cracked the starting lineup for Riverdale Ridge against Resurrection Christian, a competitive first three and a half minutes for both teams placed the Ravens down just 12-8. However, live-ball turnovers begin to pile up for the road team, and the veteran-led Cougars took advantage.
“You can tell they are a senior team and they’re just really aggressive. We didn’t handle it like we should have,” Gray said of the turnovers. “We knew we couldn’t dribble through what they try to do, and if you did, you were going to run straight into their pressure. We tried to work all week really moving the ball and moving ourselves and we just kind of fell out of it with their experience level.”
The margin after a quarter quickly swelled to 15 as three Cougars tallied five or more points in the frame while freshman Jathan Alston tallied five for RR to keep his team afloat. Unfortunately, for the Ravens, the pressure didn’t end after a quarter as RC went on a 27-8 run to head to the break sitting pretty at 56-22.
In the second half, eight players for Resurrection Christian found the scoresheet while five did for Riverdale Ridge. On the night, eight players scored for the Ravens, including five freshmen.
With nine on the roster, the ceiling for this group is through the roof, as a talented 8th-grade class will also add more depth to the roster a few months from now.
“We are excited to get better, excited to get back in the gym. Champions are made in the offseason so right now is when our season really begins. They need to see ‘hey, we can compete.’ Playing together is really the big thing for us,” Gray said. “We are excited and ready to take it to the next level.”
“I told them to enjoy the fact that you have 16 wins. Sixteen is a lot for a second-year group and the biggest thing is to make that jump and sustain it. I was here with Stargate 3-4 years ago, and those guys (Resurrection Christian) were freshmen and sophomores, so to see them where they are today, that’s where we are going to be.”
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