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NRHS players double up in win

Looking to retain their unbeaten status, Nansemond River put three players in double-digit points to overcome a four-point halftime deficit at home Friday against Indian River, winning 57-55 to move to 4-0 on the year.

Andre Jones (19 points, 7 rebounds), Quinton McDuffy (11 points, 11 rebounds) and Mark Brown (10 points) led the team on offense. McDuffy went 4/5 from the floor in the second half, finding the badly needed consistency that eluded his team in the first en route to the team’s sole double-double.

The Warriors struggled out of the gate, watching their brief 6-3 lead disappear in a flurry of Braves baskets at the end of the first quarter. Indian River scored 10 unanswered points by owning the offensive rebounds and getting multiple shots on each possession. Answering the challenge, Nansemond River came back to outscore the Braves 9-2, tying at 15-15 midway through the second quarter. Continuing the back-and-forth, Indian River hit a jumper and two back-to-back treys.

Nick Wright stole the momentum back for the Warriors, as he scored underneath and drew a foul, which he converted for the three-point play. Wright (9 points, 15 rebounds) then found Jones on an assist from the top of the key to the baseline. Jones scored two buckets with time running out, closing the gap to 28-24 at the half.

The first two quarters were tough to watch for Warriors fans, as Indian River won both. The Braves dominated the boards on both ends of the court and knocked down 14 points from good looks on the perimeter.

“We were very flat in the first half,” said Nansemond River Head Coach Ed Young. “They beat us to the loose ball and to rebounds.”

Sensing the gravity of the situation, Jones nailed a three-pointer from deep in the corner just 10 seconds into the second half. Indian River answered on their next possession, stepping up the intensity and pace by hitting a quick three of their own that silenced the crowd. The gym found its previous raucous voice quickly, though, as Brandon Newsome was fouled after he forced a turnover and converted both foul shots to give the Warriors the lead, at 32-31, for the first time since the opening minutes. To close out the third quarter for Nansemond River, Jones stole a pass at mid-court and got the ball to Wright for a showy, two-handed dunk, setting the crowd absolutely ablaze as the home team was ahead 43-40 after three.

Marching into the final period with the lead, the Warriors stepped up on defense, showing a new vitality and hustle that Indian River successfully answered, at least briefly. With the Braves ahead 52-51, the teams locked in a defensive grapple, both going scoreless for three minutes, until 1:50 showed on the clock. Wright nailed a fade-away, then found McDuffy on an inside dish and lay-in. With a five-point lead for the Warriors, Indian River hit a three with 12 seconds left, but couldn’t find another basket, falling 57-55 in a tight match-up.

In the second half, Nansemond River was 1/8 from behind the three-point line, but found plenty of penetration for successful drives. Indian River set up successful picks throughout the half and drained 3/4 from behind the line, until the Warriors defense figured out the scheme late in the game and shut it down at just the right time.

“In the second half, our team really showed its character,” Young said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we did what we had to do for the win.”

The Warriors take their swagger to Chesapeake Tuesday, matching up with Oscar Smith before returning home to face city-rival King’s Fork on Thursday.