CARY — Minutes after Raleigh Charter’s disappointing 64-35 conference loss to Kestrel Heights at Cary Academy last Tuesday, head coach Steve Efird was ready to put the game behind him.
That ability to learn from the past, but stay focused on the future, has helped the Phoenix improve this season after finishing the 2012-13 season without a conference win and just three wins overall.
“We just always show up the next day, ready to work and ready to get better,” Efird said. “Hopefully we put his game in the rear view mirror pretty quickly ... focus on the next game, focus on the next play.”
Raleigh Charter (8-10, 5-5 NCAC) hopes to finish in the top half of the North Central Athletic Conference standings and make the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A playoffs.
“(We’ve used the) same system,” Efird said. “It helps to have the same group in the system for a number of years. I think we still have a chance to still achieve great things, so we’re hoping to do that. ... We have a group of several seniors that were hoping to continue to grow throughout the year, and hope we keep making a push to get a berth in the playoffs for the first time in four years. That’s one of our goals this year, and I think it’s definitely attainable.”
Forward Andrew Grant is one of those seniors.
While he was disappointed with the team’s performance against Kestrel Heights and took some responsibility for not having the team mentally prepared as a captain, Grant said he has seen the program’s growth.
“It’s definitely a lot better,” Grant said. “We didn’t get a win in conference last year and we’ve won five or six this year. I think leadership from myself and a couple other seniors, Clark (Hannon) and Udara (Fernando), we’ve all grown. We’ve played on this team for four years, and you learn from experiences like this, but we’ve got to put it behind us and try to move on.”
Grant led the Phoenix with 10 points in the loss. Junior Johnny Huntley and freshman John Schuster added nine and seven, respectively.
“We put a lot of time in this offseason, whether it be getting shots in or team chemistry,” Grant said. “It’s just a learning process sometimes.”