Up is where the Warriors appear to be going so far in the 2012-13 campaign.
Sporting a 4-3 overall record through Thursday, North Atlanta has already doubled its win total of a season ago.
The hard lessons they learned last winter — along with a commitment to improvement during the offseason — has led to the Warriors’ rising fortunes on the basketball court, according to coach John Gaines.
“The guys got a lot of playing time last year and were put in a lot of situations which they learned from,” Gaines said. “Most of the guys played this summer at the Georgia State camp, [North Georgia] State camp, Kennesaw State camp — we did a lot of camps this summer — and they’ve grown as players.”
Sophomore guard Miles Jenkins credits his team’s work ethic and improved defensive performance with the Warriors’ improvement.
“We just work harder and play better defense,” Jenkins said.
Another reason is the addition of 6-foot-8 sophomore Noah Dickerson, a transfer from Lovett who leads the team in scoring with 22 points a game.
Dickerson, who is ranked among the top players in the nation in his high school class by ESPN, scored 27 points in a 61-44 victory over Dunwoody Nov. 30 and 25 in a 52-51 loss to Mays Nov. 27.
“He’s ranked in the top 20 or something like that,” Gaines said. “He’s been contacted by Georgia Tech, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. He plays for the Georgia Stars, one of the top AAU teams, so he gets a lot of exposure. He’s a pretty good player. He still has a lot of growing to do, but he’s going to be someone to be reckoned with in the future.”
The Warriors have also gotten strong contributions from the 6-1 Jenkins (11 ppg) and 6-7 junior forward Johnathan Turner (10 ppg) as well as a solid effort from 6-3 junior Harold Cardwell — a transfer from Montgomery, Ala. — on the defensive end.
North Atlanta’s new-found success will be seriously challenged as it begins action in a formidable Region 6AAAAA that includes last year’s Class AAAA state champion, Miller Grove, and AAAA runner-up Southwest DeKalb.
“We’re in, I think, one of the toughest regions in the state,” Gaines said. “We’ve got Miller Grove, Tucker, Southwest DeKalb, Stephenson — all these powerhouse teams that have several championships, some back-to-back-to-back. We’ve got to go up and beat those guys night in and night out. It’s awful hard.”
Nonetheless, Gaines said all the pieces are in place for North Atlanta to contend for a state tournament berth.
“We’ve got some guys that, once we get them to gel a little more and understand the system, we can be a contender,” he said.