Stark contrast in styles in NR versus KF girls’ game

Published 1:34 pm Friday, January 16, 2009

The Nansemond River High versus King’s Fork girls basketball game Thursday featured a stark contrast in styles. Nansemond River is a team with multiple weapons and no dominant player, while King’s Fork lives and dies with star TaShauna “Sugar” Rodgers. The varied attack prevailed in this matchup as the Warriors won 59-41. Rodgers had 22 points and 12 rebounds but looked utterly drained by the Southeastern District game’s end.

That was Nansemond River’s plan. The Warriors knew shutting Rodgers down is close to impossible, but they were going to make the swing player earn every point and battle in her own end. The Bulldogs’ star was double-teamed virtually every time she touched the ball and had plays run in her direction while she was on defense.

“We wanted to make sure that someone else had a chance to beat us and not her,” said Nansemond River coach Calvin Mason. “She’s probably the best player in the state and we weren’t going to let her have a field day in here.”

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The Warriors spread their offense out, getting points from eight players and 16 each from DeShanna Honore’ and Andrea Jones. Point guard Trinese Fox had six points and hounded Rodgers relentlessly, while 6 foot 2 Brittany Boyd was a major defensive factor in the paint.

The game began poorly for King’s Fork in several ways. Rodgers missed her first six field goal attempts and made only 4 of 14 in the first half. The Bulldogs committed 10 of the game’s first 11 fouls and post player Simone Ricks crumpled to the floor with an apparent knee injury in the first minutes and hobbled out of the gym on crutches and in obvious pain before halftime.

King’s Fork trailed 12-1 after five minutes and 18-8 after a quarter. However, Rodgers scored 11 of her team’s 17 points in the second quarter and the Bulldogs trailed 33-25 at intermission despite committing 13 turnovers and hitting 8 of 14 free throws.

“I was feeling pretty good going into halftime because even as well as (Nansemond River) played, we were only down eight,” said King’s Fork coach Garry Murphy, whose team dropped to 9-4 overall and 7-3 in district play. “But once they got that spurt to start the third quarter, that killed us.”

Murphy was referring to the Warriors’ 10-4 run to open the second half, which coincided with Rodgers missing her first three field goal attempts of the third quarter. The senior, slated to play at Georgetown next season, was 6 of 27 from the floor during the game.

“They came out and played hard-nosed and we kind of succumbed to the pressure,” Murphy said. “Once they got up on us, our body language changed and heads dropped and there’s nothing you can do then.

“It looked like Sugar was trying to take control and do it on her own but she’s got to realize that even if her teammates miss a shot or a pass, it’s much easier with them than without them.”

Said Mason: “I can see how she might be frustrated. She’s always had a lot of help around her and that’s not the case now. But imagine how many games King’s Fork would win if they didn’t have her?”

Nansemond River (11-3, 9-1) maintained its hold on second place in the district, trailing first-place Indian River, which narrowly defeated the visiting Warriors in mid-December. The Braves (13-0, 11-0) travel to Suffolk for a rematch Jan. 29 that could well determine the district champion and Mason likes his team’s chances.

“We had our chances in that first game but we got out-rebounded and that happens to everyone against Indian River,” Mason said. “If we get out there and play defense like we’re supposed to, we can beat anybody.”