A national ranking. An 83-15 record during coach Jerry Jackson’s tenure. A pair of region titles. A 60-plus game win streak.
So, this season’s success hasn’t exactly caught Lady Raiders insiders off-guard.
To the contrary. The team, courtesy of its hot start, is looking to stay on a roll at this pivotal point in the season.
“As a coach, you try to take it one game at a time and get everybody to buy into that mindset,” Jackson said. “We’re just trying to keep that momentum, keep [players] humble and focused.”
“This is a good group,” he added. “I think they’ve played enough basketball to know how to do it …”
The Lady Raiders (13-1) return all five starters — all now juniors — from a squad that went 19-10 and reached the first round of GHSA state tournament play.
Brea Elmore, averaging 19 points per game, has been a force both at the 1 and on the wing. Forward Jada Byrd has been solid, as has shooting guard Destini McClary. Senior forward Fa’Tia Sams, the tallest player on the roster at 5 foot 11, is yet another bright spot for Redan this go-round.
The team got off to a rousing 11-0 start in their 2012-13 campaign before getting thumped by reigning Class 4-A titlist Columbia back on Jan. 11.
It didn’t take long for Redan to rebound from that loss. A thorough dismantling of Lithonia the following day and then Stone Mountain three days later are proof of that.
This year’s squad, mostly populated by “long, lanky, athletic” players hovering around 5 feet 8, can now add resilience to its ever-evolving team identity as a result.
Jackson credits the program’s status as a talent mill for preparing his current crop of standouts for their moment in the limelight.
“These girls have played behind some great players and I think they benefitted from it,” he said. “They come in fresh … they’ve seen how things operate, so they’re just keeping everything going.”
Speaking of which: these Lady Raiders will get a prime opportunity for redemption when they host Columbia on Feb. 1.
Until then, expect them to stick to their coach’s in-season philosophy.
“Preparing one game at a time — that’s what it’s all about,” said Jackson. “We’ve had winning streaks before … as a coaching staff, we’ve got to keep [our players] from looking too far ahead.”
Friday vs. Grady (H)
Saturday at Marist.