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Raytown South is a talented team of individuals

February 12, 2011
Raytown South High School

Sometimes, the nonverbal clues can tell you so much about a person. In the case of the Raytown South Cardinals, it's their shoes that do all the talking.

On Friday night, the boys expressed their individuality through their footwear, with sophomore Ishmail Wainright leading the way.

Wainright wore electric green Nikes that hypnotized everyone who looked down at them - his head coach Brad Oestreich shook his head, school district spokesman Cathy Allie asked to snap pictures, and a Ray-South basketball assistant wondered whether the choice to wear green shoes symbolized something.

Who knows? But the clashing green shoes, as well as the mismatched kicks all throughout the Ray-South lineup, spoke very loudly that the Cardinals walk as individuals.

A talented bunch of individuals, mind you, that can defeat Park Hill South as they did Friday night 68-57. But nevertheless, a cast of somebodies who are still learning to cooperate in this beautiful team game.

"I think we can go all the way to state," said senior Corey Hilliard, who led all scorers with 19 points. "We've got a real high ceiling. I think if we just keep working hard for these last three or four weeks, and then the sky's the limit for us. I don't think we're there yet, but we have time to keep working hard every day."

High school basketball fans across the Kansas City area could agree with Hilliard. These Cardinals, now 18-5 and winners of nine of their last 10 games, are good. Very good. They are the most gifted team among big-class metro competitors.

Hilliard, who represented his future college by wearing black socks with Cornhusker logos stitched all over, has already signed to Nebraska. Wainright, a 6-foot-6 sophomore framed in a grown man's body, had been labeled as a Division I prospect before he even played his first high school game. And junior Earl Peterson - who, if you're wondering, wore his own red and white Nikes - took an unofficial look at Missouri State last week.

Just those three players should strike fear in opposing coaches, but throw in speedy senior point guard Nodie Newton and senior wing Marc-Alan Tucker, a football recruit, and the Cardinals become an athletic juggernaut. Hard to stop - unless their wounds are self-inflicted.

Wainright won the tip, and seconds later Hilliard dribbled into trouble and lost the ball, leading to Park Hill South senior Christian Hildebrandt's fast-break flush. The next possession, Wainright, the one whose feet looked as if they were covered in Gremlin goo, had trouble with his hands and couldn't cleanly catch the ball for a second turnover.

When the turnovers settled, Ray-South seemed content with one or two passes in the half court before someone chucked up a shot.

"It wasn't really like we weren't trying to pass it," Hilliard explained. "We were just taking the first open look. ... and basically, not cry about (it)."

The complaining has been a seasonlong trend. So far, the team has met three times just to talk about touches. After Friday night, there probably won't be another powwow because all of the starters got quick touches - they weren't always the best shots, but hey, when you're that talented, you can get away with it. So because they pressured on defense and got out on fast breaks, the Cardinals maintained a lead throughout this game.

Oestreich watched the same game in which Park Hill South shared the ball for 17 assists on 24 baskets and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds for second-chance opportunities. So he understands that his team, as talented as it may be, still has to meet expectations. Unfair expectations, maybe. But they are there.

However, Oestreich also understands that his team has faced adversity all year - the roster has changed and Hilliard missed a block of the season because of a team suspension. Yet it hasn't crumbled. So there seems to be something special growing underneath the individual talents.

"I think (we) have a chance to go to Columbia, if we put it together, I really do," Oestreich said. "We have weaknesses but we have a lot of strengths, too."

The Kansas City Star

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/02/11/2649810/raytown-south-is-a-talented-team.html##ixzz1Dkon9UAn

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