GRAYSON – East Carter boys’ basketball has set their sights on making it back to the regional tournament.
The Raiders’ devastating loss to West Carter in triple overtime put an end to the Raiders’ season in the first round of the 62nd District tournament.
It has been since 2014 that the Raiders have made the trip to Morehead State University for the 16th Region basketball tournament and the Raiders feel like this year could be their year back in.
“Our team has had some unfortunate breaks recently, not being able to get out of the district. All the district games are going to be close, but we are up for the challenge,” said senior Donovan Damron in an interview with MyTownTv and the Ashland Daily Independent during the Northeast KY High School Basketball Media Day Nov. 9.
With Elliott County rebuilding and West Carter and Morgan County both losing some key players, the Raiders have just as good a chance as any to make it to the regional tournament.
The Raiders lost key players from last season including leading scorer Jordan Brooks and point guard Josh Damron.
Brooks scored 414 points and averaged 15.9 points per game. He also led the team in rebounds having averaged 8.6 rebounds per game. Damron added 183 points averaging 7.0 points per game.
“We have some minutes there that three or four guys have a chance to fight for. It’s just a matter of who pulls away and takes those minutes,” said head coach of the Raiders Brandon Baker during the Northeast KY basketball media day.
With the team losing over 10 rebounds per game between Brooks and Damron, Coach Baker admitted he is looking for a scrappy player to work hard on the boards.
“That fifth spot is going to have to be a rebound spot. If you are willing to get in there and rebound for us, that might give you the advantage,” said Baker.
The Raiders return 33.6 points per game having averaged 56.5 points per game. They return as leading scorers Micah Adams, Treven Tussey and Hunter Binion.
Adams joins the Raiders after being part of one of the Raiders’ best seasons in close to a decade. The Raiders football team finished their season 7-4 and beat West Carter for the first time in five years.
Adams led the team with 701 yards receiving and had 289 yards rushing. He scored 92 points for the Raiders. He scored eight touchdowns receiving and seven touchdowns rushing, and scored one two point conversion.
Adams rejoins the Raiders basketball team having averaged 9.8 points per game and 4.8 rebounds.
Also joining after a tremendous football season is Braden Hicks. Hicks has been the Raiders quarterback for the past four seasons. He ended his senior season throwing 1901 passing yards. Hicks will be fighting for one of the spots left by the graduating seniors.
Treven Tussey, an East Carter soccer player, returns with 8.2 points per game and 3.1 rebounds. Tussey shot 40.2 percent from the field and 28.8 percent from three-point range.
With the East Carter soccer team, Trussey assisted the Raiders in the program’s first ever state semi finals appearance. He assisted Ethan Miller’s goal with two second left in double overtime against Prestonsburg in the quarterfinals.
Miller also joins the basketball team after ending his season with the soccer team. He is expected to step up and added valuable minutes this season. Miller is coming off a stellar soccer season where he finished the season with 42 goals and scored all five goals during the Raiders’ state appearance.
The Raiders basketball team welcomes seven players from both the football team and the soccer team, all eager to keep the success rolling.
“It’s contagious. It’s a good feeling to be at East Carter,” said Baker.
Binion returns as the Raiders’ sharp shooter. He returns with best field goal percentage (50.4 percent) and the best percentage from three point range (30.0 percent). Binion sat out seven games last season with a fracture in his foot, but hopes to have a healthy senior season.
Binion told MyTownTV and the Ashland Daily Independent during his preseason interview, “It’s been hard coming back. Last year I probably came back on my foot sooner than I should have, but it was hard sitting on the sidelines watching my team play without me.”
Binion is one seven seniors including Adams, Hicks, Donovan Damron, Timmy Pope, Ryan Phillips and Issac Walker.
Damron returns as one of the most experienced seniors behind Adams and Binion. Damron has also fought through injury having had hernia surgery and a collapsed lung during his high school career. He returns 5.8 points per game.
The Raiders expect a much better start to the 2019/2020 campaign. They lost their first seven games last season. They didn’t win their first game until January.
By mid-January, the Raiders found their stride. They finished the season 12-14. They won 10 of their last fifteen games and came up just shy of the 11th win.
“Once we got everyone back after Christmas, our team bought into their roles, meshed together so strongly and so smoothly. That is why were able to finish the way we did,” said Baker during his interview.
The Raiders’ chemistry was at peak performance and this year’s team hopes to achieve the same.
“Each season is different. Each team is different. Getting that back the way it was isn’t easy and doesn’t always happen as easily and smoothly as a coach wants. It takes patience. But that’s what we want to get back to, identifying roles and how each player is going to play and play off each other. That’s what we have to figure out these next few weeks,” said Baker.
They will start the season at home against Lawrence County Dec. 3, and travel to Elliott County for their first district game Dec. 5. The Raiders will jump into the EKC tournament before facing George Washington, West Virginia, at the Boyd County Roundball classic.