Now, with a year of playing in AAAAA under its belt, the Raiders are looking to get back into the postseason picture in 2013.
“We’re trying to mesh together as a team,” Riverwood community coach Keisha Constant said. “We’re trying to be positive with each other and continue to encourage each other.”
Riverwood is looking to improve on its 15-17 record in its inaugural season in AAAAA and return to the level it achieved in AAA, where it made it to at least the second round of the state playoffs from 2006 to ’11 and earned quarterfinal berths in ’09 and ’11.
It has been tough going for the Raiders so far, posting a 3-5 record as of last Tuesday while playing a challenging schedule that includes AAAAAA powerhouses North Cobb and Etowah.
“We have some really athletic and talented girls,” Constant said. “It’s a good start. But, at the end of the season, we’re going to be much, much better that we are now. We’ll be able to anticipate what to do on the court, who to get the ball to and they’re going to be more confident in their abilities.”
Constant said the tough early season schedule has been a plus for the Raiders’ development.
“I think anytime you play teams at your level, you play at that level,” she said. “Anytime you play teams that are lower skilled, you have a tendency to play down to them. When you play teams that are above your skill level and really push you, it gives us a chance to get better, because you have to play up to their level.”
For Constant, athleticism and defense are among the strongest points for a well-balanced Riverwood squad.
“As a whole, the team is very athletic,” she said. “We’ve got some girls who can get some good swings on the ball. We have some good defensive players who know their way around the court. We have a few girls who are trying to step up and be leaders on the court. Everybody does a great job of contributing when we need them.”
Senior defender Julia Clendenin and junior right side player Aaliyah Strong are among the key players for the Raiders.
Riverwood faces a tough challenge in its quest for a playoff spot in AAAAA in a competitive Area 7AAAAA that includes state powerhouses Pope, Northview and Sequoyah.