A week into the 2013-14 season, the Knights are 2-0 with wins over Creekview and Woodstock.
Nick Masterson, who was a force for River Ridge as a junior, looks even stronger this season.
According to coach Matt Bohon, Masterson is a big inside player with a skillful shot from the perimeter. Against Woodstock he netted six 3-pointers.
“He is coming off a knee injury from last Christmas, but he is excited to get back into it,” Bohon said of Masterson, River Ridge’s all-time leading scorer. “I would say he is about 98-percent healthy at this point. He is one of the best shooters I have coached in my career. If he is open and he can see the rim, he is probably going to make the shot. He has been a pleasure to coach. He is a hard worker and great in the classroom.”
Bohon expects Masterson, a four-year starter, to sign with a college by the end of the season, as he’s already drawing attention from mid-major programs.
“Lots of people are talking, but he hasn’t really made up his mind,” Bohon said.
Masterson isn’t the only player who returned for River Ridge.
The Knights lost just a couple of players to graduation and find most of their key players back on the court. The team will be made up of 10 seniors and just four underclassmen.
In addition to Masterson, seniors Steven Spears and Ty Suwalski return. Spears, another four-year starter, has more than 80 varsity games under his belt, while Suwalski, a point guard, has played 79 games. Masterson, who missed half of last season with his injury, has logged time in 69 games.
Spears has only practiced with the team for a week after spending the fall with the River Ridge football team, and Bohon expects more from him as the season goes on.
This year comes on the heels of a season of firsts for the Knights, who graduated their first class last May. Bohon hopes to build upon the success.
“Last year was our first time winning a game in the region (7AAAA) tournament — actually, the first time even playing in the region tournament,” Bohon said. “We had never even gotten out of the subregion play-in game. We got to the state tournament and played South Atlanta and lost in the first round, which was kind of disappointing.”
Bohon said one of the team’s goals it to have a banner to hang in the gym at the end of the season.
The Knights have a strong possibility of being in the mix for the region title. A year ago Gilmer, Dalton and Northwest Whitfield were the strongest teams in the region, but River Ridge was right there with them in the final two weeks.
“One of our strengths on this team is that there isn’t much these kids haven’t seen,” Bohon said. “Many of them have started since they were freshmen. They have played against 6-foot-11 kids, and there isn’t much that is going to surprise them, so we are definitely excited about this season coming up.”