FA varsity boys’ basketball preview

Head Coach: Sedge Saunders

Assistant Coach: Billie L’Heureux

Junior Varsity Coach: Joe Leavitt

The Roster: Seniors Chandler Blake, Lionel Rutabayiro, Djorje Obradovich, Mike Costa, Sonam Sherpa, Milos Todosijevic, Bobby Ramsay, Kevin Knowles and Zachery Sargent; juniors Bright Amoako, Tyler Saunders and Kevin Tang; sophomores Walker Mallory and Luka Vujotic; freshman Jonathan Burk.

Key returnees: Bright Amoako averaged 12 points per game last year while also dishing out five assists a game, as well. Djorje Obradovich (6-foot-6) is back after missing most of last season with a foot injury. Bobby Ramsay was the Raiders’ starting power forward last year. Kevin Knowles got some quality varsity minutes last season.  Mike Costa was the Raiders’ leading three-point shooter last year. Walker Mallory came on strong at the end the season and Tyler Saunders also got some valuable minutes.

What will it take for the team (3-14) to be better than a year ago? The Raiders lack the size it had last year so FA won’t be able to throw the ball inside (with the graduation of Colby Locke) when the team needs a hoop. “Therefore, we need to create some offense with our defense. We will look to be more of an up-tempo team and try to spread teams out,” Coach Saunders said. “The most important key will be improving our mental toughness. We have to battle every possession especially defensively. We also have to execute and communicate to the best of our ability if we are going to compete in this incredibly difficult conference.”

Based on what you have seen in the preseason, what do you feel are the team’s strengths and weaknesses? “Preseason is so short it’s difficult to get a read on the identity of your team. I suspect it will take a couple weeks into the season to have an accurate portrait of this team,” Coach Saunders said. “The NBA and college preseason is twice as long as ours, so I find it mind-boggling that the Maine Principals Association expects us to be able to prepare these kids in such a short period of time.”

Three goals you have for your team? “The team came up with goals for the season and we’ve decided to focus on short-term process oriented goals. We want to be the hardest working team in the league, and this will be measured by floor burns and all the other intangibles like deflections and charges taken. We also want to be tougher mentally and physically. The boys are working hard in the weight room and making self-control and poise a priority in practice,” Coach Saunders said.

To be competitive, what are three key things your squad must do? “To be competitive in the Western Maine Conference, we have to be competitive in practice. I feel our practices have been more intense thus far,” Coach Saunders said. “We try to make every drill competitive, which will allow us to recreate the speed and intensity of a league game.”

He added, “Obviously, we’ve got to take care of the ball, understand our roles and play to our strengths in order to be successful this year.”

What a Player Thinks

Lionel Rutabayiro is a senior from Rwanda, and has been with the Raiders for four years.

What do you see as the three keys for success?

Lionel Rutabayiro: Three keys for this season will be unity, leadership and poise. In the fourth quarter, down by 10 with three minutes to go, you have to have poise. You can’t point fingers at your teammates.

What are you most excited about?

Lionel Rutabayiro: I am excited about my team this year. We have a great group of guys ready to step in at any time and deliver. If we can promote unity, leadership and poise, this season should be exciting. I am also excited because I love basketball.

“We will have a good season if we…”

Lionel Rutabayiro: We will have a good season if we put in the effort and work hard every practice and game. If we have unity and poise, we should have a great season. We also need to do the little things like getting to loose balls and taking the charge. I feel like these are some of the goals that can lead us to a great season.

The Schedule

Fri., Dec. 9, 6:30, at York

Tues., Dec. 13, 6:30, Falmouth

Thu., Dec. 15, 7:00, at Cape Elizabeth

Sat., Dec. 17, 6:30, Greely

Thu., Dec. 22, 7:00, at Yarmouth

Fri., Dec. 30, 6:30, at Poland

Tues., Jan. 3, 6:30, at Wells

Fri., Jan. 6, 6:30, Waynflete

Tues., Jan. 10, 6:30, Freeport

Sat., Jan. 14, 6:30, Cape Elizabeth

Tues., Jan. 17, 6:00, at Gray-NG

Fri., Jan. 20, 6:30, Sacopee Valley

Tues., Jan. 24, 6:30, Lake Region

Fri., Jan. 27, 7:00, at Greely

Tues., Jan. 31, 6:30, at Freeport

Fri., Feb. 3, 6:30, Gray-NG

Mon., Feb. 6, 7:00, at Lake Region

Thu., Feb. 9, 7:00, Poland

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