Raiders tip off tough stretch

Raiders+tip+off+tough+stretch

By Sebastian Wiegand, Sports Editor

Coming into the new year many people make resolutions to help work on things they need to make better. The Raiders’ boys basketball team will have a hard time finding one as they went 7-0 in December.  Now they will play fourth ranked ThunderRidge tonight.

“It’s Huge,” said Senior Tyrei Randall. “Coach (Palmer) told us that the team that went to the Final Four (2012) went undefeated in December.”

After playing their first seven games in 2015, the Raiders will come into 2016 without a blemish at 7-0.  They have found ways around both being undersized and have withstood 70 % shooting from the three point line against good team like Cherry Creek.

The Raiders are an undersized team, but don’t tell them that. Throughout their first seven games, they have shut down opposing big men. Against Fort Collins they held 6’6” big man Brian Read to just four points and two rebounds.

In the final game before break, the Raiders showed their grit going on the road to Cherry Creek high school and pulling out a last minute win over the Bruins. The game was not a pretty one as the Bruins came out on fire, rarely missing a three pointer in the first half and ending the first half up by seven 33-40. However, the Raiders didn’t give up; they slowly chipped away at the lead and ended up winning on an Elijah Blake game-winning layup with less than three seconds remaining to give the Raiders a 65-63 win.

However, the Raiders are in for their biggest test yet. Over the next two weeks, three of their opponents are all ranked in the top five teams in state according to basketballcolorado.com.  However the Raiders will have no time to relax as their next two games are against teams who are knocking at the doors of the top ten.

The Raiders will opened up 2016 against the ThunderRidge Grizzlies last night.  The Raiders were in full control of the game from the beginning as the jumped out to a 26-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.  The Grizzlies however would battle back cutting the lead to seven at the half.  Halftime adjustments by coach Sean Palmer, who earned his 198th win, put the Raiders back in full control as they never looked back winning 70-56.  According to basketballcolorado.com the Grizzlies were ranked fourth in Colorado coming into the game.  Elijah Reed and Tyrei Randall lead the Raiders as usual. Reed tallied 16 points and nine rebounds and Randall put up 20 points and snagged eight rebounds.

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Senior Tyrei Randall soars in for a dunk against ThunderRidge. Randall paced the Raiders with 20 points and added eight rebounds in the win. (Sebastian Wiegand)

Following that game, the Raiders will take on another tough opponent in the Cherokee Trail Cougars on the road. The Cougars come into the game at 6-1 and ranked fifth in state according to basketballcolorado.com. Their lone loss was to tenth ranked Doherty High School.

Wrapping up the top five games the Raiders will be given the toughest task of all.  They will have to go on the road and play against the Regis Jesuit Raiders. Both teams are currently two of the three undefeated teams in 5A and in the city of Aurora. Regis also handed reigning state champs Overland High school their first win last night. Regis is currently directly behind Rangeview in the rankings at third according to basketballcolorado.com.

After Regis the Raiders will take on two more solid opponents in George Washington and Boulder. George Washington is currently 5-7 but have potential to be great as they showed against Overland in the season opener when they lost by five to a team that is in the top ten in the nation. Boulder is also a strong opponent as they are 5-3 and have hung in against other top ten opponents.

“If we win these games we will have a good season,” said guard Senior Jalen Guidry.

The Raiders will look to continue their climb to the top of the rankings. Last season they finished ranked sixth. They started this season at fifth and have moved up one spot every week and they currently reside as the second ranked team in Colorado.

For the Raiders this is a stretch that could define their season, as it will heavily play into their seating in the playoffs. These are the last five games before league play begins and they are arguably the five hardest games they will play all season.