Habersham Central High School basketball teams host night of fun for community
There was no lack of community support shown Tuesday night as Habersham Countians turned out in droves to celebrate the kickoff of basketball season at the Habersham Central High School (HCHS) basketball program’s Raider Madness in Mt. Airy.
The event was hailed as a massive success by HCHS Boys’ Head Basketball Coach Cody Anderson.
“Coach [Bill] Bradley and I were both very thrilled,” he said. “Anytime you do something for the first time, you’re unsure of, No. 1, how the community will respond to it and, No. 2, all the things that you plan – are you able to run it the way you envisioned it?”
Entry to the event was free, but donations of canned goods were encouraged.
“Part of us wanting to do the event was with everything we do, we want to teach our kids about giving back to the community that’s so good to us,” Anderson said, adding the canned goods were given to the Habersham Food for Kids program. “Instead of charging admission and making it a fundraiser-type thing, we wanted to have a way to make it affordable for everyone to come, but also have a chance to impact our community. That was a special thing that we were able to do.”
The night began with trick-or-treating for kids, who went around to various booths in the gymnasium dressed in their costumes receiving candy from members of both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. Following the trick-or-treating was the introduction of players, a dance contest between the teams, a three-point contest between players and coaches and various games pitting members of the audience with members of the teams.
“The chance to celebrate basketball is cool and I think it’s definitely something that we all agreed is something we want to make an annual thing,” Anderson said. “We’ll get better as we go and hopefully, it’ll grow year by year.”
While the event was a way to celebrate the beginning of basketball season, it also gave members of the community a chance to see the more personal side of the players.
“I think that’s so huge,” Anderson said. “I think it’s one of the things that makes high school athletics … special. You’ve got a large community that supports one high school and one team – these kids have grown up here. A lot of the community members have seen these kids and knew these kids growing up as little Raiders, but this gives them the chance to really get to know them as people.”
Anderson said there’s no shortage of personality on the team.
“We’ve got some personality, man,” he said. “Between Micah [Ward], Malachi [Dooley], Jeb [Barnette], Jace [Reeder] – the list goes on and on. For them to see that, I think it just further engrains the community to our players and our players to the community.”
The last part of the evening saw the Raiders hold an intrasquad scrimmage, mixing members of both the varsity and JV teams. Anderson said while hoping to see the players implement what they’ve learned so far, he wanted most to see them have a good time.
“I wanted the community to see what our identity is going to be – not just philosophically or strategically, but who we’re going to be,” he said. “To me, our identity is our five E’s: effort, energy, encouragement, it’s got to be everybody and it’s got to be everyday. I wanted them to compete and show who we are.”
Anderson said he knew there’d be mistakes made by the Raiders in the scrimmage, as the team had only practiced together four days prior to Tuesday.
“We’re learning a brand new offense and defense, so that’s going to take time,” he said. “As long as you know where you’re at, then that’s always a positive thing, because you can address it and fix it.”
While he felt the team was further along in their identity, Anderson wasn’t as pleased with the effort shown.
“I wasn’t happy with our effort and just the way that we played,” he said. “I thought we looked very robotic, but the beauty is we were able to address that.”
The team practiced Wednesday and was much better in that session, Anderson said, adding the team would practice Thursday, as well.
“Right now, we’re trying to build who we are,” he said. “When you don’t know who you are, that’s when you can make decisions that really have some severe consequences. As a basketball team, we’re still figuring that out.”
On Wednesday, Anderson said the thought for that day’s practice was, “A good farmer isn’t planting in preparation for tonight’s dinner, a good farmer is planting in preparation for all of winter.”
“The things that we’re harvesting right now are the things that have been sewn over the last year, two years, three years,” he said. “For us to think that instantaneous success is going to happen isn’t accurate. It doesn’t work that way.”
Anderson added the things that the team is doing right now are going to lead to the successes they want later down the road.
“Continuing to sew good fruit, continuing to pour into the root of who we want to be,” he said. “It’s going to be a constant, daily fight to establish that identity. Those five E’s shouldn’t change.”
For Anderson, all the pieces are in place.
“I really do believe that we’ve got enough talent and we’ve got great kids who are working their rear ends off,” he said. “If we can stay true to who we want to be and continue to fine-tune the things we can control, I think we can be a really good basketball team.”