It was all smiles in the Perch at East Ridge High School as the Raptors boys basketball opened up their season on Friday night.
East Ridge hosted the Raptor community for Raptor Madness and a fun night of dunks, 3-pointers and a basketball game.
During this past offseason, the East Ridge boys basketball team has been busy preparing for a season where they're highly ranked heading into the 2018-19 season. The Raptors are actually ranked No. 1 to start the season for boys basketball.
This Friday night was an opportunity for the East Ridge community to watch the boys showcase their talent and their practice during this past offseason.
After Raptor Madness, head coach Bryce Tesdahl told the crowd that East Ridge hopes to keep that No.1 ranking all season long until the very end.
"We will be playing some great teams from beginning to end this season," Tesdahl said. "We're excited for the challenge and the opportunity to learn with each game."
Raptor Madness consisted of four quarters of seven-minute basketball along with intermission events like the dunk contest, 3-point contest, two-ball challenge and a 30-second shooting challenge.
For Tesdahl, it was a night to sit back and see what the boys have learned during the first week and also see them shake some of the nerves off before the season officially starts.
The basketball game on Friday night was favored offensively with some dunks, alley-oops and 3-pointers. On the defensive end, there were steals and blocks, but many of the fans were excited to see the team as a whole.
Tesdahl brings back many talented players from last year's roster including highly touted recruits like senior Courtney Brown Jr., junior Ben Carlson and sophomore Kendall Brown.
These three players have been making many visits to various Division I schools throughout the offseason and Bournemouth Brown Jr. actually committed and signed his National Letter of Intent to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Carlson and Kendall Brown have been traveling around the country visiting many schools, but no decision has been made about their futures. Instead, the two are going to enjoy a high school basketball season with their sights on the state title.
"We have so much depth on this team this season," Tesdahl said. "I could see going eight to 10 players deep each game, which would be great to see."
Along with the high school players showing off their skills on Friday night, the youth basketball players were able to join in on the fun. The younger kids were able to compete in the 3-point contest and participate in other events throughout the night.
During that time, the East Ridge varsity and junior varsity teams made sure to help them and encourage them with each shot. The smiles on the younger kids made Tesdahl's night and put a smile on his face too.
"The only way you continue having a strong program is if you have a strong youth program," Tesdahl said. "It's great to see the high school players interacting with the younger kids either at their practices or before games."
After a fun Friday night, the Raptors will need to get refocused as they host a round of scrimmages on Saturday morning at East Ridge High School. Along with the scrimmages, the Raptors will start their season on Saturday, Dec. 1 as No. 2 ranked Hopkins at Cretin-Derham Hall.
It will be a big test to start the season for either team, but Tesdahl knows it's going to be a packed crowd and it's going to feel like a state tournament game in December.
"We're going into that game with the mindset of winning, but I also hope they learn throughout the game," Tesdahl said. "Hopkins has a great program, but I know our players will compete every second of that game until the final horn. It'll be a fun way to start off the season."