Tough sledding continued for the Habersham Central High School (HCHS) Boys’ Basketball team over the weekend as the Raiders dropped a pair of region contests on their home court, falling to Dacula High School 66-65 Friday night and taking one on the chin to Lanier High School by a score of 64-32 Saturday.
Following the losses, coach Cody Anderson reminded his players that the journey to where they want to be is going to have adversity.
“I told them how hard winning is and that our focus has to be on doing what we do in the process of that,” he said. “It’s got to be who we are, and not who we can be on any given night. To our kid’s credit, we’re getting a lot closer to that being who we are.”
Friday’s game against the Falcons (7-12) wasn’t without it’s share of drama, as Dacula won on a last-second shot.
“Bryce [Wilson] made a heck of a play to knock down a heck of a shot that was heavily contested by our guys,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, your heart breaks with the way it ended, but that’s the kind of basketball that I’m hoping can become regular for us.”
The Raiders came out of the gates firing on all cylinders to take a 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, then added to their lead with a 15-13 second-quarter run.
Coming out of the break, the Falcons exploded on offense, outscoring the Raiders 21-13 to take the lead, but the Raiders fought back and tied the game in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. Ultimately, Wilson’s last-second shot would secure the victory for the Falcons.
During the fourth quarter, Anderson said he made mention to his team the environment they were playing in.
“That’s what I want Habersham basketball to be about and that’s what I want our kids and fans to get to experience night in and night out,” he said. “I looked at our staff and players and said, ‘There’s nothing better than this.’ There’s nothing better than a close game and the thrill of that.”
Anderson said the roller coaster-aspect of the game was exciting to be a part of.
“We jumped out to a lead, had a tough stretch and battled adversity,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that place so loud and engaged. We had several guys make really big basketball plays.”
Following their loss to the Falcons, the Raiders were set to host the Longhorns Saturday, but the team had other plans first.
“We volunteered with the Champions Basketball League, which I thought was great for us,” Anderson said. “I’ve talked to the guys a lot about when you start to feel sorry for yourself, you’ve got to serve other people. I think that’s the best and easiest way to get over that pity feeling, so we went out as a team, which I thought was awesome and a great thing for our guys.”
The game, originally scheduled for 7:30 p.m., was moved up to 1:30 p.m. due to inclement weather. Between the time change and the effects from the previous loss the night before, the Raiders had trouble keeping up with the Longhorns (14-5), eventually falling 64-32.
“Saturday didn’t go how I wanted it to or how we wanted it to, but Lanier is a dang good basketball team,” Anderson said. “You could blame it on us being hungover from the night before, but I don’t know if it was as much that as it was them coming out, imposing their will and us not having an answer.”
The Raiders, now owners of a 6-13 record, will continue their tough stretch this week as they play another pair of region tilts.
“We’ve got two more games this week where we’ll have to battle adversity,” Anderson said, who is currently battling the flu, alongside sophomore point guard, Malachi Dooley. “We have an Apalachee team on Tuesday that we expect to compete with and beat, then we have a chance for revenge against Gainesville Friday.”
Going into Monday’s practice, Anderson said the Raiders would get back to work, correct some things and get back on that path to doing what they want to do.
“Every time you turn on the next team’s film in this region, you keep expecting to see a break, and there’s really not one,” he said, adding the Raiders would see the best player in the region in their bout Tuesday. “It kind of starts and ends for [Apalachee] with Jamonte Wallace, who is just an explosive scorer.”
Anderson said Wallace can make the tough shots when needed.
“A lot of what they do offensively is get him scoring opportunities off the bat, or get it out of his hands and back into his hands,” he said. “We’ll definitely have our hands full there. It’s another good test for us.”
Results from Tuesday’s game were unknown by The Northeast Georgian’s press deadline, but will be in the Weekend edition of The Northeast Georgian.