East Carter’s Raiders have set their sights on making it back to the 16th Region Tournament.
The Raiders’ devastating loss to West Carter in triple overtime put an end to their season in the first round of the 62nd District tTurnament.
The Raiders haven’t made the trip to Morehead State University for the region tournament since 2014. Is the drought’s end imminent?
“Our team has had some unfortunate breaks recently, not being able to get out of the district,” said senior Donovan Damron. “All the district games are going to be close, but we are up for the challenge.”
With Elliott County rebuilding and West Carter and Morgan County both losing some key players, the Raiders like their chances.
The Raiders lost key players from last season, too, though, including leading scorer Jordan Brooks and point guard Josh Damron.
Brooks scored 414 points, averaging 15.9 per game. He also led the team in rebounds (8.6). Damron scored 7.0 points a 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 aways and takes those minutes,” said East Carter coach Brandon Baker.
With the team losing more than 10 rebounds per game between Brooks and Damron, 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 starters Micah Adams, Treven Tussey and Hunter Binion.
Adams was part of a successful football team that went 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 rushing, adding one two-point conversion.
Adams averaged 9.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season.
Braden Hicks is another football-basketball guy returning. He has been the Raider quarterback for the past four seasons. He ended his senior season with 1,901 passing yards. Hicks will be fighting for one of the vacancies created by the graduating seniors.
Tussey, also an East Carter soccer player, scored 8.2 points per game a year ago. Tussey shot 40.2% from the field and 28.8% from 3-point range.
Tussey helped lift the Raiders to the program’s first state semifinals appearance. He assisted Ethan Miller’s goal with two seconds left in double overtime against Prestonsburg in the quarterfinals.
Miller is expected to step up and added valuable minutes this season. Miller is coming off a stellar soccer season during which he tallied 42 goals.
The Raiders basketball team welcome seven players from both the football and soccer teams, 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’ sharpshooter. He had the best field goal percentage (50.4%) and the best percentage from 3-point range (30%). Binion sat out seven games last season with a fracture in his foot but hopes to have a healthy senior season.
“It’s been hard coming back,” Binion said. “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 of seven seniors including Adams, Hicks, Donovan Damron, Timmy Pope, Ryan Phillips and Isaac Walker.
Damron returns as one of the most experienced seniors behind Adams and Binion. He has also fought through injury, having had hernia surgery and a collapsed lung during his high school career.
The Raider expect a much better start to the 2019-20 campaign. They lost their first seven games last season, not notching a win until January.
By mid-January, the Raiders found their stride. They finished the season 12-14.
“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,” Baker said.
The Raiders will start the season at home against Lawrence County on Dec. 3 and travel to Elliott County for their first district game on Dec. 5. The Raiders will jump into the EKC tournament before facing George Washington at the Boyd County Roundball Classic.