GOOD HOPE, Ala. — The Good Hope Lady Raiders are coming off yet another amazing season. they finished 31-4, won the county and area championship and made their second straight trip to the Elite Eight and one of two seniors on this year’s team, Rudi Derrick is so grateful to have experienced back-to-back amazing seasons with a great group of girls.
“I’m so proud that we’ve been able to make it that far, but I know that we have the girls and the ability to, honestly, win it all. It just makes me want to go further even more,” Derrick said. “Our girls are just something else. We’re so together and we work so hard. In the offseason, we’re always working out. We always have practice in games. During our playdates in June, we didn’t have a day off. I love the team we have, and I just feel like we will stay together and make something even bigger happen this year.”
Rudi saw a lot of positive things during the play-day games this summer and learned so much during that time. She talked about Good Hope’s new addition to the coaching staff: former Good Hope standout player, Nina Moss.
“It went really good. We didn’t lose many and we played some really tough teams, which was really good for us. I thought that we did really well in the play-day games,” she said. “We had a new assistant coach come in: coach Moss. She really taught us how to make sure that we have good attitudes on and off the court. We have to cheer for everybody because really, the atmosphere you create helps contribute to the harder games. This summer, we focused on having good attitudes, good sportsmanship, and being great teammates.”
“She is a great asset. Coach Justin Aby and coach Natasha Holder are amazing coaches. They’ve taught us how to do everything. Coach Moss has so much grit in her; she’s the enforcer. She just really wants to win.”
Rudi is so blessed to be playing for some great coaches and has soaked up so much from them so far.
“I’ve learned amazing life skills. They always make sure that all of the girls are focused on Jesus first. He puts basketball second and we always make sure to have a devotion. Coach Holder leads the devotions and coach Aby makes sure our heart is in right. We’ve learned how to be respectful to people over us, to have good attitudes, and to be positive.”
Rudi has got to play with a lot of amazing upperclassmen and took away so much from them.
“I’ve learned so much from my upperclassmen. Last year, we had Renee, Kyndall, and Desire, and they taught me how to make sure that I don’t look over any moment. They also taught me to take in everything that I go through in high school because it goes by very quickly. They taught me to just try my best and give all of my effort all of the time.”
Rudi worked on a lot of things during the summer, but she focused on one very important part of her game: her defense. Rudi feels blessed to be a part of a very special team.
“This summer, I really focused on my defense personally because I feel like you have to play great defense to win the big games. I’ve also been working on my speed as well,” she said. “What makes us so special to watch is probably our ball movement. Everyone on our team can handle the ball and I feel like once we start moving it, we get that wide-open shot. It’s enjoyable to see that. People like watching us because we are fast, we move the ball, and we share it.”
Rudi has set some big goals for herself and her team this season. She’ll be one of the leaders alongside fellow senior Bailey Keef and has taught the younger players some things and she’s really pleased to see the younger players continue to grow each day.
“One of my goals is to be a leader because it’s my senior year and make sure everyone is on the same page. We have the same goal, which would be to win state this year. Make sure no one gets down on themselves,” she said. “This year, we want to make sure that we’re really a team and that we’re bonding all the time. We’ve been bonding a lot more this summer and we’re making sure that our attitude is good and that we have the same goal in mind.”
“Bailey and I are really hard workers and I feel like they see us working hard and they’re like, ‘I need to work hard too’. Basically, we’ve taught them to work hard, even if it’s just summer workouts. I’ve seen a lot of growth from the younger players on the team, even our JV team at the beginning and they look like a completely different team. I can tell that they’ve learned more skills and that they’ve grown together. I’ve seen a lot of improvement out of them.”
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