Old Warriors come out on top

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Joycelyn Williams was a top star for the Nansemond River (NR) girls basketball team during the mid-1990s. But while attending Christopher Newport University (CNU), she devoted time to her educational future.

Sure, Williams still laced up her sneakers for the Lady Captains. But she also enlisted in the Army and studied medicine at CNU. May 10 will be a special day for the former Lady Warrior; not only will she graduate from CNU, but she’ll also be promoted to second lieutenant in the Army. Soon, she’ll be transferred to Fort Knox, and then to Texas to continue her study of medicine.

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Williams will be gone from Virginia for about four years. So when she heard about the Suffolk high school alumni basketball game on Friday night at Lakeland, she decided to say goodbye by doing what she did for so long; playing basketball.

Williams showed that she hadn’t lost a step since leaving Suffolk; she scored 12 points as the female NR graduates defeated their Lakeland counterparts 67-47. The games were held to benefit the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life teams; by the night’s end, nearly $1500 had been collected.

&uot;They definitely didn’t have games like this when I played here!&uot; said Williams. &uot;It was great to come back here and meet my old teammates and coaches, and even some of my old rivals.&uot;

The team was coached by Nancy Richey and Sondra McCray, the only two coaches the Lady Warriors ever had. McCray led the NR girls from 1990 to 1995; Richey from 1996 until 2003.

For Richey, who is retiring from coaching NRHS basketball after this season, the event was a happy goodbye as well; though her team lost its final game last season, coaching the alumni contest allowed the 27-year coaching veteran to take home a victory in her farewell game.

&uot;These girls played really great tonight, and they played really great for me when they went here,&uot; Richey said. &uot;They always had big hearts when they played their local rivals, and they showed it tonight. Events like this really help them give back to the community.&uot;

The women’s’ game was nip-and-tuck for the first half, with neither team jumping ahead by more than five. But three minutes into the third quarter, the Lady Warriors took control.

Amy Patterson hit a free throw to cut the Lakeland lead to 25-24, and Demtria Dyer hit a jumper to go up by one. Rita Walden scored for the Lady Cavaliers, but Shawniqua Parham completed a three-point play and Williams banked home two layups for a 33-27 lead.

Parham scored again, and she and Angel Artis broke away to complete a 15-3 run. Tamkea Dillard appeared to give Lakeland some momentum by scoring five points in the final 20 seconds, but the Lady Warriors outscored the Lady Cavaliers 28-8 in the final period to take a 67-47 victory.

For her 25-point game-leading performance, Dillard, who attended Virginia Union on a basketball scholarship and is currently a recreation supervisor in the Suffolk Parks and Rec. department, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

The male Warriors had an even easier time of things, taking control late in the first quarter and never relinquishing it. Keith Artis, who helped the Warriors to the 2002 Southeastern district title, led all scorers with 29 points, while John Lillard led Lakeland with 21.

For Derrick Bryant, a member of the 1992 state champion team, the game required a bit of traveling. &uot;I came all the way from Barcelona to play here!&uot; he joked. Bryant, who scored 14 points in the win, has played ball across the globe since graduating from River, and now plays pro ball in Spain. &uot;I’m always out for playing with the same old guys. I’d do it again without a doubt, because it’s for a great cause.&uot;