Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

November 28, 2012

County Basketball Preview: Baker and Raiders aim for consistency

By Grant Stevens - Sports Editor
Journal-Times

Nov. 28, 2012 — Consistency from the start is what East Carter Head Coach Brandon Baker hopes to see from his team night in and night out.

Catching fire at the right time was how the 2011-2012 East Carter boys basketball season played out, with the Raiders upsetting cross-county rival West Carter in the 62nd District finals before making a run to the second round of the 16th Region tournament.

Finishing with a record of 15-17, two program mainstays also walked off the court for the final time in March. Guard combo Dylan Genung and Connor Robinson, both of which consistently provided double-digit point outputs, could prove a difficult void to fill for Baker and his team.

One particular advantage Baker’s boys possess headed into 2012 is athleticism. Not tall, but not too short, most of his starting lineup will range between 6’ 0” and 6’ 2”, something the East Carter coach says he plans to utilize this season.

“We don’t have a lot of size, and we’d like to increase the tempo a little bit,” Baker said. “We struggled a little bit with rebounding last season, so that is something we’ve really tried to work on. It’s going to come down to scoring and rebounding for us.”

Several players returning from last year’s surprise run to the 62nd title are forwards Quinn Huddle, Jordan Burchett and Kyle Stewart. Stewart led the senior trio averaging around 10 points per-game last year.

“We definitely lost a lot from our backcourt last season, but we have a lot of returning talent, and we are going to want to get up the court pretty quickly this year.” Stewart said.

Huddle, who made the game-winning free throws in that district championship upset over West Carter, said it’s all about trying to balance the abilities his team possesses.

“We’ve got a little bit of height and some good speed,” Huddle said. “What we want to do is try to find a good balance between pushing the ball and half court sets, and we have been doing a pretty good job of that in our scrimmages and practice.”

A new-look year for many teams in the region means a fairly open field of play. Fleming County is essentially a loaded bunch. With its core of starters from 2011 making the ruturn, Fleming is the favorite to take home 16th gold.

After that, it’s essentially anybody’s game, with Russell and Kyle Skaggs looking to make some noise of their own; Ashland Blazer looking to reload and Boyd County looking to make a return to its glory days.

“I think once you get past Fleming County, there are several teams that could beat anyone on any given night,” Baker said. “I’m comfortable with these guys and we’ve got a solid nucleus of returning players. I would like to think that we will be more consistent with our play throughout the season.”

The Raiders kick off the 2012 season tomorrow night at home as they take on district opponent Elliott County.

Grant Stevens can be reached at gstevens@journal-times.com or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.