Young Warriors bring home another title
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 19, 2003
After finished third in the Southeastern district last season, the Nansemond River junior varsity team was in trouble. Starting guard Jhmar Lee and forward Darrien Batten moved up to the varsity level, and center Justin Sorensen went with them.
The 2002-3 season didn’t start off well for the younger Warriors either. They opened the season with a loss to Oscar Smith, and fell to Deep Creek to end 2002 with a 2-2 record.
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Still coach Robert Mason wasn’t worried.
&uot;We were teaching man-to-man defense, and that’s hard to do, because the new players don’t always understand the principles of the technique,&uot; he said. &uot;We had 13 new kids. But these were the hardest-working group of players and assistant coaches we ever had. These kids were open to teaching, and new players sometimes aren’t. I’m not saying that we didn’t have a lot of talent, but these kids outworked everyone else in the league.&uot;
Sophomore Jerome Burgess didn’t change his work ethic; only the type of work he performed on the court.
&uot;The coaches told me I needed to shoot more,&uot; said the point guard. &uot;My teammates kept getting me open.&uot; His work paid off; by season’s end, Burgess was the team scoring leader, averaging 19.2 points.
He wasn’t the only Warrior to get things together quickly; the team piled up a 10-game winning streak. Besides defeating every district team at least once, they also pulled out wins over Woodside and Norcom.
One such victory came against Oscar Smith. The victory was bittersweet for new Warrior Travis Robinson, who had played for the Tiger team that had defeated River to open the season.
&uot;I came to Suffolk to play ball and be near my family, because blood’s thicker than water,&uot; said Robinson, who transferred in early January. &uot;It was hard to play against my old team, but when they started chanting ‘Traitor, traitor’ at me, I thought, ‘Hey, forget them.’&uot;
After their Feb. 8 victory over Indian River, Mason gave his team the good news; at 13-2 (11-2), they’d clinched the school’s second district title in three years.
Daniel Henderson, in his third year of crashing the boards for the Warriors, was a member of the team that brought home the title in 2001-2.
&uot;We have more weapons than we did on that team,&uot; said the sophomore captain. &uot;We’ve got a lot more shooters now.&uot;
Henderson hopes that his skills pay off on the varsity court next season. &uot;They’re lacking in the post,&uot; he said of the varsity team, which battles host Oscar Smith in the semifinals of the Southeastern District tournament at 7:30 p.m. tonight. &uot;I’m going to step up there. I’m definitely ready for varsity.&uot;