Warriors shine on special evening
In the first meeting ever during a regular season between a high school basketball team in Hampton Roads and an international team, Nansemond River welcomed Melbourne, Australia’s Caulfield Grammar School to Suffolk Thursday evening.
With the combination of energized performances from all the Warrior teams and Caulfield having to play their fourth game, in their fourth different state, on a fourth consecutive night, NR claimed three victories on the night.
The JV boys contest went 42-29 for the Warriors.
The girls’ game went to the last second with NR prevailing, 38-37, and the finale saw Caulfield take a two-point lead into the half before NR took over in the second half for a 75-52 win.
Before the girls’ contest, the JV boys and varsity girls teams traded gifts.
Prior to the varsity boys’ game, the exchange of gifts between teams included jerseys autographed by each player on both teams.
The national anthems of both nations were played, there was an honorary jump ball from NR principal Thomas McLemore, and the overall atmosphere was great as the special occasion was also the home debuts for both the Warrior and Lady Warrior teams.
Caulfield’s girls’ team, winner of six straight conference championships and last season’s Australian National School’s Basketball Championship gold medalist, took it to the Lady Warriors in the first half.
Quickness and hustling defense was NR’s main advantage as they forced Caulfield into 11 first-half turnovers.
Despite that stat, Caulfield led 20-13 at the half.
Jessica Mayes scored seven points in the half for NR.
NR started the second half by getting the lead down to 22-19 when Charae Rice finished off a lay-in after a good post feed from Trinese Fox.
NR turnovers led to two straight buckets for Caulfield, rebuilding the halftime margin at 26-19.
Jasmine Clark, a substitute guard, got her only points of the night at a key time.
Clark scored an old-fashioned three-point play to bring NR back within three and a lay-up by Shannon Walker was the final score of the period, making it 28-25 Caulfield.
Walker went 4-for-4 at the foul line in the first couple minutes of the fourth and NR tied the game, 33-33, with a basket by Brittany Boyd; and again at 35-35, when Rice got an offensive board and scored.
After Rice’s basket, NR’s defense forced a traveling call on Caulfield and NR took a timeout with 3:49 left.
NR coach Calvin Mason had his team begin to run the clock down.
After nearly a minute with possession, Mayes was fouled.
She made one at the line, giving NR the lead.
Caulfield had two possessions with a chance to retake the lead, but NR’s defense made the play wild and fast-paced, eventually steals were the result, on one possession by Walker, and the next by Mayes.
Mason called time with 1:38 and then again with NR still in possession with 1:10 left.
Out of the timeout, NR was still taking time off the clock when Walker drove past her defender, down the lane and finished with a lay-up.
Caulfield got the ball down the court quickly and scored, making it 38-37 NR with 0:35 left.
NR didn’t force Caulfield to foul and a quick shot was off the mark and Caulfield came back on offense.
They had two shot attempts, but both missed and a loose ball went out to NR with :08 remaining.
NR was able to get the ball inbounds and Mayes and Walker dribbled out the clock before Caulfield could get a foul or a steal.
&uot;You can’t measure how proud I am,&uot; said Mason.
&uot;They’re really coming together.
We’re still learning and making mistakes, but if they play this hard every night that’s all I can ask.&uot;
In the boys’ contest, the Warriors looked ready to run Caulfield out of the gym in the opening minutes.
Feeding off the home energy, Mark Brown led NR on an 18-6 run after Caulfield got the opening score of the game.
Brown hit two treys and eight points in all, his second three made it 18-8.
Caulfield settled for deep jump shots against NR’s defense and early on, those shots were mostly off the mark.
From down 18-8 though, Caulfield rallied with a 9-0 run, bringing them within a point at 6:07 in the second.
With their half-court offense working and even a couple fast-break lay-ups against the Warriors, Caulfield kept going, taking a 26-24 lead by the half.
In a run similar to what any local opponent could have told Caulfield about, the Warriors blitzed the visitors to start the second half.
With Andre Jones, Nick Wright and Brown all on fire at the same time, NR went on a 21-1 run in the first five minutes of the third period.
Brown hit two jumpers to start the period and put NR in front and Jones scored eight points in the run.
Brandon Newsome, Brown and Jones put full-court pressure on Caulfield and Wright dominated the glass.
Wright, the 6’7&uot; center, even showed his range, canning a three toward the end of the third period.
With a 51-33 lead going to the third, NR kept going in the first few minutes of the fourth.
The celebration was on after a 3-on-1 break for the Warriors ended with Jones tossing up an alley-oop that Wright slammed down.
&uot;It was a great experience to play a team from another country,&uot; said Jones.
&uot;We knew they were tired,&uot; said Jones, referring to the busy tour schedule for Caulfield.
About the second-half turnaround, Jones said, &uot;it was our defense, our intensity was lacking and we had to turn it up.&uot;
Nansemond River goes to rival Lakeland tonight for the first district contest of the season for both schools.
The tip is set for 7 p.m. at Lakeland.