Raiders down Park Place on senior night

Jan. 24—Lamar School's boys (10-15, 5-5 District 2-5A) and girls (11-12, 5-5 District 2-5A) varsity basketball teams picked up wins over district foe Park Place Christian Academy on Tuesday. The on-court accomplishments of three Raiders were celebrated prior to the girls' 61-24 victory, and a senior night ceremony was held for Lamar's six seniors prior to the boys' 57-41 win.

Junior Blake Hart recently reached 1,000 career points scored for Lamar, and she was honored alongside junior Aryah Grace and senior Sarah Dudley Reed on Tuesday. Lamar girls coach Joe Miller said the latter two players reached 1,000 points last season, and Reed also received recognition for her over 1,800 career rebounds.

"To be honest, we knew it was going to be an easy win," Miller said of the Lamar girls' victory. "Everybody got to play, that's a good night. All the moms are happy, and I was happy with the way we played. I know Aryah had a triple-double, and she's usually a double-double anyway. Blake had a good ball game. (Sarah Dudley Reed) had a good ball game."

Despite the senior night win, Miller said he is a little frustrated with his team's inconsistency ahead of playoffs. The Raiders pulled out a 50-48 win on the road against a tough Simpson Academy team last week, but they fell 46-39 at East Rankin Academy the next day.

"You want to get hot at playoff time, but we've got to be a little more consistent," Miller said. "But, I'm happy. We've had a tough schedule this year because, honestly, a lot of the teams in the past that we'd gotten a couple of W's from are not playing us anymore, so I'm hoping that that tough schedule is going to help us in the playoffs."

Miller pointed to turnovers, free throw shooting and defense as areas that need improvement if Lamar is going to have a chance to make a run in the postseason. He may opt to run a shallow rotation in the postseason, but the playing time he was able to give his bench players against Park Place could come in handy if they are called upon in the playoffs.

"I think tonight was just so much fun for all of them," Miller said. "Everybody got in and had a good time, and that's great. Playoff time, might not be that many that play, you just go as you need to, but they're a great bunch of kids."

Lamar's boys game was closer throughout, but senior Jonathan Hart helped his team earn an early lead with strong play under the basket before the Raiders cruised to a victory. Lamar boys coach Matthew Whiting said his team played pretty well, and he was proud of the way they started fast, which has become a rarity for the Raiders.

Whiting, who is in his first season coaching the Raiders, said their season could be going better, but it is going well enough that Lamar is currently the No. 3 seed in the district tournament. The first-year coach said his players have played defense well all season, but they need to do a better job of scoring in transition and working the ball around to create good shots.

"We've pretty much achieved right at where we should," Whiting said. "Hopefully, as we go forward into tournaments we start overachieving and winning some games that we shouldn't."

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