Warriors back in winning formPublished 8:21pm Saturday, February 2, 2013
Special to the News-Herald
After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time in nearly three years, the Nansemond River boys’ basketball team needed to win Friday’s game at Oscar Smith to get back on track to defend their district tournament championship.
For a while, it looked like the Warriors might suffer their third loss in a row, something that hasn’t happened in nearly eight years under Coach Ed Young. But the team regrouped for a 64-54 win over the Tigers.
Nansemond River found itself down 5-0 and 12-3 early against the hungry Tigers, whom the Warriors had beaten 78-48 in December, and they were still behind 19-14 after the first quarter.
Things got worse until late in the second quarter, when down 30-19, NRHS went on a 15-4 run to tie the halftime score at 34 apiece.
“We played much of the first half in a funk from Thursday’s loss, and we kept telling the kids we needed to move on and play Oscar Smith,” Young said. “We had to take out the whole (starting) five at one point just to try to change the atmosphere of how we are playing.”
The Warriors turned up the familiar defensive pressure in the second half, limiting the Tigers to 8-of-28 shooting from the floor and no foul shot attempts. Nansemond River also forced 14 second-half turnovers and 23 overall but were guilty of 25 of their own for the game, most in the first half.
The Warriors also hit 7 of 8 free throws to put the game away in the fourth quarter.
Oakley finished with 16 points, four assists, five rebounds and four steals. Ed Drew had another double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Khalil Carroll had 10 points, five assists and four steals. Kendric Washington had 10 rebounds to go along with 5 points and stellar defense on two of Oscar Smith’s leading scores.
Marvin Branch, who has been a major source of energy off the bench all season for the Warriors, added 10 rebounds and six points.
“When we make our mind up to run the basketball, which we did in the second half of this game, and play tough defense, we are as good as anybody in the region,” Young said. “We have lost our focus in parts of the two losses this past week, which goes to show we don’t handle losing very well. We have to understand it’s the basics that win you games, not the highlight action or playing to the crowd. It’s too late into the season to be an immature team.”
The Warriors (14-6, 11-5) finish the regular season with games at Indian River Tuesday and at Hickory Wednesday before opening district tournament play Friday.