Warriors aim for 20-win seasonPublished 1:28pm Wednesday, November 27, 2013
The Nansemond River High School boys’ basketball team looks to be dangerous in the 2013-14 season despite losing seven players from last year, including four starters.
Head coach Ed Young returns for his 10th year as leader of the Warriors after guiding them to 181 wins so far. Though many would think a team that lost so many seniors would be in for a rebuilding period, Young pointed out a strange fact about this year’s squad.
“We’re senior-loaded,” he said. “We’ve got eight seniors.”
They may not all be highly experienced, but the team has shown flashes of brilliance during off-season games, leaving Young optimistic for an improvement on last year.
“We definitely want to get back to the 20-win mark,” Young said, which has been Nansemond River’s per-season average, missed only twice in the last nine years, including last season.
The Warriors’ 2012-13 campaign ended with a 64-58 opening round loss to Landstown High School in the the Eastern Region Tournament.
Nansemond River will miss graduated 6-foot-5-inch forward Ed Drew, who averaged 17.3 points and 12 rebounds per game. Also gone is 6-foot-4-inch forward/guard Kendric Washington, who averaged 7.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, three blocks and was the team’s top defender.
“Those two were major losses for us,” Young said.
Among other notable departures, senior starting point guard Khalil Carroll moved to Delaware and backup guard William Goodman graduated.
However, the Warriors have some key returners that will help this year.
“We’re going to rely on the veteran guys,” Young said, led by 6-foot-4-inch senior shooting guard Devon Oakley, who averaged 16 points per game last year.
He has the versatility to play multiple positions, which Young said he will do.
“He’s had a good off-season,” the coach said. “He’s getting some strong interest from about five or six Division I programs.”
The coach expects Scott Spencer, a 6-foot-4-inch junior wing player, to make a big impact this year.
“He’s only played one year of varsity, but I thought he came on well as the season progressed,” Young said.
Spencer averaged nine points and 5.5 rebounds per game. “I expect him to double that,” the coach said. “He’s another one that’s had a pretty good off-season.”
Of major importance this year will be senior center Daniel Wallace, who was sidelined for the majority of his junior year with a broken bone in his ankle.
“At (6-foot-8-inches), 215 (pounds), he should be a double-double player on his worst night,” Young said.
The Warriors will need him to produce down low.
“He’s going to be the biggest person out there, and he’s got skill, he’s just got to do it now,” Young said. “He’s another kid that had four or five D-I programs looking at him.”
The Warriors are fairly wide open at the other positions. Players expected to get playing time include a couple of key contributors from other Nansemond River sports. Volleyball standouts, 6-foot-2-inch senior Adrian Coleman and 6-foot-1-inch senior Adrian Drew, will see the court, along with football star 6-foot-2-inch senior Marvin Branch.
The point guard spot is currently shared by two backups from last year, senior Jalen Warren and sophomore Darious Jones.
Initially, Young hated the news of the Virginia High School League’s realignment. However, after discovering how it creates an even playing field by matching up schools of like size in conferences and post-season play, he was all for it.
He hopes to use the non-conference games early in the season to give experience to the six players on the roster who have never played a minute of varsity ball.
“For a team that relies on depth, that should help us a lot,” Young said.
Nansemond River opens the season at home on Tuesday with a 7:15 p.m. tip-off against Grassfield High School.