Reagan JV squad looks promising  

Reagan JV squad looks promising  
January 01
00:00 2015
(pictured above:   Nihjel Payne soars to the basket. Photos by Charles E. Leftwich Jr.)

Based on early-season returns, Reagan’s junior varsity looks like a bona fide contender in the Central Piedmont 4-A Conference basketball. The Raiders, 7-2 prior to playing in the Bank of America’s Holiday Classic earlier this week, have the versatility, firepower and defense to finish at the top of the CPC stack.

In the backcourt, Malik Miles and Maverick LaRue (Lash-Chronicle All-Tournament pick) pose problems with their ability to penetrate and score from the perimeter. Nihjel Payne, Reynolds Craver and Dylond Lindell are solid and dependable on the front line.

Another plus is offensive diversity. In nine games, the Raiders have had five different leading scorers. Will Sprinkle, Trey McDaniel and Jesiah Carlton provide depth and tenacity at both ends of the court.

Reagan served notice with an eye-opening performance in the semifinals of the Lash-Chronicle Holiday Classic last week. The Raiders lost 60-53 to eventual tournament champ Winston-Salem Prep in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated.

Coach Jeff Noe

Coach Jeff Noe

“We had the lead late in the game, but didn’t take care of the ball,” said Coach Jeff Noe. “Once they took the lead, that was it. Moving forward, the main focus for us is to execute, and we need to handle adversity better. Our goal is to be conference champs and playing in holiday tournaments really helps to get us ready.”

Coming off the disappointing semifinals loss, Reagan wasn’t fully recovered when it faced East Forsyth in the consolation game for third place. The Raiders lost 72-64 to finish in fourth place.

“When we played Prep, we felt like that was the championship game,” said Noe. “Looking back on how we lost and how close we came to beating them, it was so hard to get everybody up for the consolation round.”

With the conference portion of the schedule coming up, Noe realizes that his team will continue to go through a transition of sorts. The Raiders have their fair share of sophomores who played on last year’s 9th grade team that finished up at 18-2.

“They’re starting to see for themselves that there is a big difference at every level,” he said. “They’re learning that junior varsity is a step up from the 9th grade game. When it’s time for them to move up to the varsity, they will encounter more challenges than what they faced on the junior varsity. As they continue to grow, they come to better understand that each level requires more from them.”

Noe has gone through great lengths to help foster a tangible sense of oneness for the Raiders JV team. During time-outs, all the players and coaches form a circle while locking arms and listening to Noe’s instructions.

“One of our purposes is to play with team unity,” he said. “Instead of relying on ourselves as individuals, the message is that we rely on each other. For us to improve, it’s important that we learn to fix old mistakes. If you don’t do that, you’ll keep spinning your wheels and not making much progress. If you’re going to make mistakes, and we all do, then make new mistakes and then go to work to fix them.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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