With a solid core of seniors leading, the transition has gone well so far for the Raiders — who were 11-8 overall and 5-3 in Region 7AAAAA (B) going into Friday’s game against Forsyth Central.
“They’re playing well right now,” Riverwood coach Buck Jenkins said. “The seniors have been leading us and that leadership has carried us every night.”
Riverwood was 4-5 in early December, but has proceeded to win seven of its last 10 games — including a five-game winning streak that was broken by a 59-54 loss to Sprayberry last Tuesday.
For Jenkins, a strong defensive effort and rebounding have played a key role in the Raiders’ improved play as of late.
“We have had some success on defense,” Jenkins said. “Whatever strength the other team has, we do take it away. We’re a fairly athletic team and we also rebound the ball well.”
The Raiders have held their own against AAAAA teams so far, going 7-4 against competition from their new classification.
Jenkins said playing in a competitive Region 5AAA last year, which included AAA state champion Columbia and semifinalist Washington, prepared his team well for the move up to AAAAA.
“It’s been a challenge [to play in AAAAA] and we are in a very competitive region,” Jenkins said. “I do think the region we played in last year was maybe the best AAA region in the state, so it was a battle game in and game out. We had teams like Columbia and Washington who were very good. We have already played some good teams in our [new] region like Sequoyah, Pope and Sprayberry early in the season and that’s good for us, because we’re now prepared for the main part of our region schedule.”
A couple of seniors have led the way for Riverwood, with 6-foot-5-inch forward Jonathan Goodson averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds a game — leading the team in both categories — and 6-2 senior guard Michael Tai contributing 16 points, six rebounds and about three steals per contest.
“Jonathan Goodson and Michael Tait provide both scoring and senior leadership for us,” Jenkins said.
The Raiders have also gotten key contributions from 6-3 senior forward Connor McDaniel (9.9 ppg) and 6-5 junior forward Nick Singleton, who is averaging about nine points a game.
Tait and Singleton scored 13 points each in Riverwood’s 62-24 victory over Cambridge Jan. 11, while Tait had 21 points and Goodson 14 in the Raiders’ 56-54 win over Dunwoody Jan. 12.
Riverwood returns to action next Tuesday, when it hosts North Springs in a battle of cross-town and Region 7AAAAA rivals.