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Lady Warriors have a new chief

For the third time in four seasons, Nansemond River has a new varsity girls basketball coach.

But R. Calvin Mason, Sr. is not at all new to Nansemond River’s program.

After guiding last year’s JV girls team to a successful season, he now has a new approach ready for the varsity level.

&uot;Traditionally here, coaches have tried to fix the program.

When I got the job, I said, ‘I’m not going to fix the program, I’m going to tear it down and build it up again.&uot;

In the last four seasons, the Lady Warriors have won seven games, so there’s a lot of building to do.

The most challenging obstacle isn’t so much anything on the court, instead Mason said, &uot;we have to change the perception of the girls program in the school.

It’s really hard being on the team when in the school you hear, ‘they’re bad, they’re going to lose.&uot;

&uot;I’ve told the players, you have to change it yourselves.

If you do certain things the perception will change, but not without doing what has to be done.&uot;

After a scrimmage against Bethel Tuesday night, senior Charae Rice said about practices so far under Mason, &uot;It’s been hard work.

We’re going to earn everything we get in practice.&uot;

&uot;Intense&uot; was a word Rice and fellow senior Shannon Walker both used.

From the coach’s standpoint, Mason gives plenty of credit already to his team for matching his intensity.

&uot;I’m very pleased, they’ve worked extremely hard…I changed our Saturday practices to 6 a.m. and everyone’s been there, on time, and worked very hard.

That’s a lot of dedication right there.

With four seniors, but seven sophomores and freshmen on the team, Mason admits the talent on the team and the hard work might not always show through, especially early this season.

One advantage though is that most of the underclassmen know what Mason wants because they were on his JV squad.

&uot;They know what to do, but it’s a different level.

They still have to learn the intensity and work you need to play at this level,&uot; said Mason.

Mason says it’s like climbing a ladder; Walker says in practice, that coach says it’s, &uot;like building a house.&uot;

&uot;This team has heart, we want to turn this program around and do what it takes,&uot; said Walker.

Some of that passion was on display in Tuesday night’s scrimmage.

Only 1:05 into the first period, and with Bethel leading 2-0 after each team had just two possession each, Mason called for a timeout and let his starters hear it.

&uot;He does a good job of pushing us and he knows what we need to do,&uot; said Rice.

&uot;He believes we’re going to win,&uot; said Walker.

&uot;Why not us? That’s what we’re saying.&uot;

Strategy changes are secondary to the new effort and intensity Mason wants from the Lady Warriors, but Mason does want his team to play more up-tempo than past NR teams.

&uot;But it’s easier said than done.

We’re going to have to live with a certain amount of turnovers,&uot; said Mason.

A lot of pressure is being put on freshman Jessica Mayes, who will be the starting point guard for the Lady Warriors.

On Tuesday, Mayes played for most of the six periods.

Rice led the team with 15 points and Walker added 13.

Andrea Jones, a 14-point per game scorer last season as a freshman, will be out because of injury until January.

&uot;We’re going to have to take care of the small details.

If we do, victories will come, maybe not right away, but they will come.

&uot;Youth is not going to be an excuse.

We’re not in it for moral victories.

We want to be competitive and show our best side each night.&uot;