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Lady Raiders looking ahead

Jan. 20—The Lady Raiders were hard at practice as head coach Susan Brown eyed their performance keenly. She had stopped them a few times before the scrimmage even got started as she pointed out a misstep or someone out of position.

"I'm sure they don't like me much right now," she said, observing their play intently. "I want them prepared."

Coach Brown was running the team ragged during the practice session as she was trying to get them to communicate on the court. Midway had taken a hard defeat on Tuesday and the Raiders were looking to put the loss in the rear view and look ahead. With the 30-point defeat leaving a bad taste in their mouth, they sprinted up and down the court as they played hard to hopefully never feel that again.

The Fairmont game was a disaster and the Raiders had essentially tumbled out of the gate and Brown was going to work them hard in hopes that they understand what will be required to play for Midway. She is trying to unify a team with few upperclassmen available to reinforce the new style, but they are coming together.

Coach Brown spoke highly of the girls' progress but acknowledged their were still some kinks to work out. The Lady Raiders paused a handful of times during the practice and would come up to the coach asking for advice and clarification on what to do, showing their passion to get it right. She commented on how they plan to recover.

"The biggest thing is they realize who they are and we know who the top two teams are in the conference are. Fairmont plays together all year around, we're leaving that game behind. We just have to realize that we've got to move on to the next game and then when it comes time to prepare for them again, we'll do little things along the way to play them better the next time."

Fairmont has been a thorn in the Lady Raiders side for a while and Brown has been working diligently to break that spell the Golden Tornadoes have over them. She noticed how her talented squad seemed fall apart when playing them, a heavy history of losing to them has trained them to expect to lose, which Brown finds unacceptable and admitted frustration watching it happen.

She holds her head high however and lauds the team's commitment, pointing out that the inexperienced players are coming together and growing. Brown also states that she's had players return who hadn't played in a while, singling out Emma Lockamy, who sat out for two years. She laments not being able to rotate all her freshman in because they have a deep bench with a lot of green players.

"They are rising to the occasion and I'm really impressed with my seniors, who've been very patient with the new girls. They're not as patient right now because they think they should be there by now, but they've been very good about teaching them. I've got some good leaders."

Looking forward she optimistic about their outcome and is aiming to be over .500 on the season and bring Midway into the state playoffs with the best ranking they can get. After their game against West Bladen on Friday, they will be looking to face Clinton (7-3) and Red Springs (2-11) on the road, the following week.

Reach Anthony McConnaughey at amcconnaughey@clintonnc.com, X @SampsonSports or on the Sampson Independent Facebook page