Lady Warriors start with victory over Franklin

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 3, 2006

The Nansemond River girls basketball team opened their season Friday night in Franklin in front of a raucous crowd, looking to solidify their gameplan with the squad’s first district games coming next week. Despite virtually no offense in the first half, the Lady Warriors found a rhythm in the second that gave them the lead midway through the third quarter, then they got a stepped up defense and held on for the win, 57-53.

&uot;If I said I were totally pleased, I’d be saying the wrong thing,&uot; said Nansemond River head coach R. Calvin Mason. &uot;But as for progress, we have seven sophomores and freshmen – and they didn’t quit under the pressure tonight. They hung tough.&uot;

The underclass was indeed charged with keeping the Warriors afloat, as sophomore Trinese Fox led the team in scoring (19 points), including six of the team’s nine successful free throws in the first half. From the line, NR struggled to convert the more than two dozen attempts in the first, and both teams entered the second quarter with nine fouls, ultimately adding to more than 60 on the evening.

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After falling behind 26-19 going into halftime, the Warriors opened the fresh third quarter by going on a 13-4 offensive run. A brilliant steal at mid-court by senior guard Shannon Walker set up a fast-break pass to freshman Jessica Mayes who made the easy lay-up, putting River ahead for the first time since the opening minutes, at 31-30. Mayes, playing in her first regular season varsity game, had a great performance on both sides of the ball with 17 points and two steals.

Late in the third quarter, a series of official missteps culminated with a foul on NR freshman Kelsey Evans. Though it was only the Broncos’ fifth foul of the half, the officials lined the players up for a two-shot shooting foul. Evans missed the first shot before the livid Franklin coach finally caught the attention of the closest referee, who changed the call to a floor foul.

Unable to break away from one another, the teams found themselves tied at 53-53 with just over a minute to play. Two successful free throws from Mayes got the Lady Warriors the lead. Walker then stole the ball in the Broncos’ defensive end, but she was quickly swarmed by defenders and called for a travel, allowing Franklin a chance to tie the game. From the in-bounds pass, the Broncos got a great look from outside the paint that just missed off the side of the rim. Walker got the rebound and was quickly fouled.

Walker sank both free throws to seal the victory for Nansemond River, 57-53.

With only four attempts from three-point land, all in the first half, the visiting team stuck to their game plan and relied on their two-point shots, making no three-pointers on the evening. On defense, though, the Warriors forced the Broncos to the perimeter, where the home team was 2-for-7 on the three-pointers, going 0-for-4 in the fourth quarter.

The Lady Warriors have a busy week ahead of them.

NR goes on the road to Churchland on Monday, hosts game one of a girls-boys doubleheader on Thursday against Caulfield Grammar School from Melbourne, Australia, and then NR has their first district contest on Friday against rival Lakeland.