The Raiders came away with a big win over Lake Gibson on Monday night.
Despite trailing in the second quarter of their season-opener against Lake Gibson High School on Monday, the Plant City Raiders were able to pull away in the second half and move to 1-0 with an 80-53 victory.
“We have to play defense first,” head coach Billy Teeden said before the game. “That’s going to be our motto and sometimes we’ll have to junk up the game a little bit. We have to outhustle teams and play together. We’re going to be undersized in some matches so we have to make sure that all five are rebounding, all five are defending, that’ll be our key.”
Plant City fought their way to a 17-7 record in 2020, claiming the second seed in the 6A District 7 tournament where they narrowly fell 75-72 to top-seeded Kathleen High School in the District Championship. Moving on to the state tournament, the Raiders were able to topple Hillsborough High School in the Regional Quarterfinals before meeting Kathleen again, falling 66-63 in yet another close contest. The 2021 season provides new challenges as three of the Raiders’ top four scorers were lost to graduation and they will also make the jump up to 7A, placing them in a new district with Lakewood Ranch, Riverview, Newsome and local rival Durant.
“I like our group,” head coach Billy Teeden said. “We’re returning six or seven guys from last year’s team and this is going to be a fun group to coach. They’re really getting along well, I like the style we’re playing, we’re playing hard and this is going to be a fun group to watch play this year.”
Prior to the start of the regular season, Plant City went 2-0 in the Peewee Callins Preseason Classic with wins over Sickles and Plant. With several players playing for travel basketball teams or being multi-sport athletes, these preseason tournaments can be crucial for a team as the regular season approaches.
“It was a great tournament,” Teeden said. “Durant went 2-0, we went 2-0 so Plant City did well. We got to play two different styles of teams in Plant and Sickles so we reacted to how a team’s going to run with us and how a team will want to slow us down, so that was good to see.”
Senior D.J. Haynes led the way for the Raiders on Monday night with 24 points, followed by junior Elijah Dawson with 13 points, senior Romello Jones with 12 points and sophomore Mike Bell with 11 points.
“We can be pretty darn good,” Teeden said. “It’s a long season and we’ve got a lot of experience so we’ve got a good chance to compete for a district championship this year.”
The Raiders will look to move to 2-0 as they take on district foe Newsome next Tuesday.