Raiders Basketball Finding Ways to Win With Tough Schedule

The Shaker Heights boys basketball team has won recent games in dramatic fashion with some outstanding players.

It doesn't matter if they're down by two points or 18: The Shaker Heights basketball team will find a way to win.

The Red Raiders (10-2, 5-0) have pulled off some impressive victories as of late, including an 18-point comeback at Mentor and a seven-point rally to beat Cleveland Heights in the final minute.

But no matter who they beat or how they do it, head coach Danny Young says it doesn't get any easier for the 11th ranked team in the state by the Associated Press.

"We have the toughest schedule in Cleveland," Young said. "Any one of those games we can win or lose. We try to prepare for every game like it's our last."

Life isn't easy for the top-ranked team in the Plain Dealer's Top 25 Poll. They still have a rematch against the second-ranked Mentor Cardinals, a road game at third-ranked St. Edward and a match-up with the reigning state champions, Pickerington Central.

The good news is Young's team is up to the challenge.

"They're playing with a lot of grit and a lot of passion," Young said.

Plus it helps to have a beast like sophomore Esa Ahmad on your side. Ahmad is averaging 18 points a game and 11 rebounds. 

Young said he's already getting looks from programs like Ohio State and has even had an offer from the Miami Hurricanes.

Shaker Heights is also relying on the leadership of seniors Kash Blackwell and Mel Leach. Blackwell is still undeclared but has been playing tough as of late and Leach is a the "best sixth man" who is "lightning fast and can shoot the three," Young said.

Other players like junior Rosel Hurley, sophomore Kaleb Roy and freshman Keith Griffin have added their own spark to the Raiders success this season.

Hurley is scoring 10 points and five rebounds a game, while Roy sacrifices his offense by passing more and shooting less. Griffin, the point guard, is averaging seven points, three assists and two steals a game.

"He's doing a good job getting everyone involved," Young said.

Young's said his front court features collegiate Division I athletes and the best-ranked freshman guard in the state.

"I've got lots of guys who are going to play after high school," he said. "It's up to me not to mess it up."

There are two words Young said he uses to drive his players: Hungry and humble.

"If they can do those two things, good things will happen."

He also tries to include a little math in the mix also. He taught his players this equation: Commitment to excellence + Consistency = Success.

It is a message he wants his team to learn on the court, in the classroom and in life.


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