Oscar Smith edges NR down the stretch

Published 1:26 pm Friday, December 11, 2009

Through two games of the new season, Nansemond River’s boys basketball team made head coach Ed Young’s preseason concerns seem unwarranted in wins over district opponents Lakeland and Grassfield.

On Thursday evening at Oscar Smith, the Warriors’ inexperience showed as the Tigers pulled out a 55-52 win.

Neither side led by more than five points at any point in the contest. Oscar Smith guard Alonzo Holmes, who scored a team-high 17 points, scored his last two at the foul line with 6.5 seconds left to make it 55-52.

The Warriors (2-1, 2-1) had one last chance to tie, but Morris Johnson’s three-point shot from the top of the key was off the mark and the clock ran out as the Warriors scrambled for another shot attempt. The last 6.5 seconds was only one sign of the Warriors having to learn on the fly.

“The frustrating part, as a coach, is a lot of the things we messed up on tonight were because we simply didn’t listen,” said Young.

“On the last play, it was supposed to be a double-screen for Ashton (Moore) to get a shot. Make or miss (on the Oscar Smith foul shot), that’s the play we wanted coming out of the timeout. We had the time to do it, but we didn’t execute,” said Young.

Johnson, who at 6-foot-2 amounts to NR’s center, led the Warriors with 17 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks. His effort in the paint was the only thing keeping the Warriors even with the Tigers, who don’t have a great deal of height in the post themselves, on the glass in the first half.

“Morris had a great first half. He had 13 rebounds in the first half, then four in the second half. He ran out of gas and we gave him no help,” said Young.

Johnson scored the last two buckets of the first quarter to bring the Warriors to a 10-10 tie at the end of the quarter. Brandon Debblay’s fast-break lay-in, coming off a rebound and outlet pass by Johnson, made it 16-14 NR with 4:44 left in the half.

With the Warriors gaining some momentum on the offensive end, back-to-back NR turnovers in the backcourt led to six Oscar Smith points in a span of 0:20.

The Warriors regrouped and finished the half with a 9-2 run to take a 25-22 halftime lead even with 11 turnovers in the half.

The Warriors played much of the third period without starting shooting guard Brian Clarke after he left the floor with an ankle or foot injury.

Debblay sparked the Warriors throughout the game and back-to-back baskets by Debblay gave NR a 43-39 lead a couple minutes into the fourth period.

With NR’s lead down to 43-42 at the 5:24 mark, Debblay injured a finger attempting to get a defensive rebound. Debblay missed about three minutes of action before returning, but with a taped-up right hand.

Oscar Smith led 53-52 and ran the clock from 0:32 down to 6.5 seconds left before the Warriors fouled. After a timeout by the Warriors, Holmes swished both foul shots to force NR into needing a three-pointer to tie.

The Warriors did a good job with part of their gameplan said Young.

“We knew they liked the three-point shot and we took that away,” said Young. Oscar Smith was 1-for-16 from three-point range.

On the other hand, it wasn’t enough to get the victory. NR finished with 16 turnovers and 12-for-21 (57.1 percent) shooting at the foul line.

Moore had 11 points and six assists. Debblay had nine points and three steals.