Warriors district’s best again

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 12, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

When no one else in the Southeastern District believed in them, the Nansemond River boys basketball team believed in themselves.

Some thought that last season’s departures of Marquie Cooke, Eric Joe, Fred Spratley, Justin Sorensen, Dennis Conley Diontay Perkinson and coach Franklin Chatman would keep the Warriors in a rebuilding mode for a while.

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But when the chips were down and the stakes were up, the Warriors came through, ending a 16-6 (13-3) season with an 88-63 defeat of visiting Great Bridge on Wednesday to cinch their fourth consecutive district title. In his first start of the year, Jerome Burgess lit up the Wildcat defense with 23 points, while Keith Josey turned in his 19th double-double with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Vaughn Wilson also had a double-double with a game-high 26 points and 10 assists.

&uot;We had a lot of young players coming up who had the potential to be as good as the ones that left,&uot; said Josey, who along with Burgess, Jahmar Lee and Dan Henderson, was playing his farewell home game.&uot;

&uot;This is as nice a win as any championship my teams have ever had,&uot; said coach Ed Young, who took Suffolk High to the 1987 state title. &uot;Not many people picked us to win the regular season, but we weren’t going to be denied. The kids did a great job.&uot;

The three-point line became a familiar spot for the team all night, as 24 of their 39 first-half points came from downtown. Wilson hit four treys, Burgess three and Josey one, a rarity for him.

Nick Wright completed a three-point play with 25 seconds to go in the first quarter for a 22-15 lead, but the Wildcats hit a quick three-pointer to cut the lead to four. That’s when Wilson caught fire, swishing three three-points and a jumper in the first 1:42 of the second, and Bridge never got nearly as close again.

&uot;This is my last regular-season game in the Warriors’ club, and I had to make a difference,&uot; Burgess said. &uot;We have confidence that we can win it all.&uot;

That’s a task that will begin anew on Tuesday, as the Warriors host Hickory in the first round of the district tournament, which they’ve won the last two years. The regular season title automatically grants them a home berth in the Eastern Regional tourney, which starts in late February.

&uot;We’ve only made it to two goals,&uot; Young said. &uot;We’ve won the city title (the Warriors swept local rivals Lakeland and King’s Fork) and the district; now we have to go get the tournament.&uot;