Warriors bait visiting GrizzliesPublished 6:03pm Saturday, January 12, 2013
By Matthew Hatfield
After a slow start Friday against the Grassfield Grizzlies, Nansemond River High School’s boys’ basketball team turned up the intensity against their Southeastern District opponents and cruised to a 79-57 victory.
The Warriors began the second half of their district schedule tied at 17 through one quarter of play and allowing the Grizzlies to shoot 50 percent from the field in the first half. But once they found their groove NR players controlled the paint and the backboards and suffocated their visitors from Chesapeake with tenacious pressure on the defensive end. Nansemond River led by double-digits the entire second half.
With the win, the Warriors are now 12-2 overall, 9-1 in the Southeastern District.
Six-foot-5-inch senior forward Ed Drew battled foul trouble in the first half and sat the entire second quarter and part of the opening period. Drew still managed to put up strong numbers with 21 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
“Coach Young gave me some motivation, and I also knew I had to pick it up, go hard and help us get the W,” commented Drew, who now has 13 double-doubles in 14 games.
Crashing the boards along with Drew was Six-foot-4-inch senior swingman Kendric Washington, who added 12 rebounds, eight of them on offense.
Nansemond River, which came in out-rebounding foes by 17 per game on the year, collected 23 offensive rebounds.
“Everything counts in a game and every rebound is meaningful,” Drew said. “As a team, we’re improving, but like every team there are still things we can improve on and correct some of our errors.”
Coach Ed Young said getting second-chance points has made a difference all season.
“There’s no question that we’re a multiple possession team and need a lot of possessions,” he said. “How do you do that? Through pressure defense, and you have to hit the glass and get second, third opportunities for shots. In the half-court, we’re a very impatient team and there’s no magic on how we operate: We go to Ed Drew, and he led the charge well.”
Another key to Nansemond River’s success was sharing the basketball. The Warriors handed out 17 assists from eight different players, highlighted by sophomore Scott Spencer’s five.
“I know that I can score, but I want my teammates to get the ball, too. I know if I’m open at the three-point line, but I see Kendric or Ed down in the paint, I’m going to get it to one of them, because I know they’re going to make that shot, I trust them and they have a mismatch,” Spencer said.
“We boxed out our man pretty well, rebounded and our transition offense is improving a lot. We’re not just going down and throwing up shots anymore. We’re looking to make the extra pass on the break.”
Nansemond River’s subs gave the team a lift at the close of the tied first period. William Goodman scored 11 on the evening. Others contributing quality minutes included forwards Tiron Smith and Marvin Branch, combining for nine points and seven boards.
With Drew out of the lineup in the second quarter, the Nansemond River defense started to increase its activity, forcing Grassfield to hurry on offense, thereby igniting the fast-break, leading to an 11-4 run.
“My concerns coming in were with number 12, Trey Fayton, a 5’9 “junior who came in averaging 15 points a game and had a couple 20-point games. We decided to go big on him with Kendric and Cristian Alexander taking turns covering him, and they were effective,” Young said.
Fayton was held to just five points. Nansemond River made 17 steals, five of them coming from point guard Khalil Carroll, who scored 12 points.
“Right now, we’re still kind of raggedy in the half-court, and here it is almost the middle of January,” Young said. “We can be lethal in transition, and when we decide we want to play defense, we can defend pretty much anybody around.”
On Tuesday, the Warriors visit archrival King’s Fork (11-3, 8-2), which is riding a 10-game winning streak. Nansemond River leads the all-time series with King’s Fork 12-8 and has won five of the last six meetings.
The Warriors know the Bulldogs will want revenge for an earlier loss they suffered at the hands of NRHS.
“We’ve got to be smart with the ball, because they have some tough guards like Jacorey [Smith] and Rod [Parrett],” Drew noted. “We have to take advantage of our inside game, but also take care of the ball, run plays and minimize our mistakes, because if we don’t they can make us pay.”