Holiday hoops and more

Published 9:30 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2010

As high school basketball around the region and state becomes ever more competitive — and more televised — it’s easy to think of regular-season tournaments or showcase games as being worth a dime a dozen.

Nearly every team keeps playing during the Christmas break from school. In Suffolk, seven varsity teams had games during the Christmas break.

Teams hit the break usually only a few games into the new season. Taking two to three weeks away from competitive action could lead to rustiness just in time to return to important district or conference games.

With all that said, some Suffolk squads were able to gain more than on-court skill and experience during the last couple weeks.

Lakeland’s boys and girls teams were able to be a part of the return of high school basketball to Norfolk Scope two days before Christmas.

With the way the Eastern Region Tournament spots are determined — solely through a team’s district play — it could accurately be said that Lakeland facing Eastern District school Maury is not as important as an in-district game.

A couple nights before Lakeland played at Scope, the Cavs’ boys coach, James Jones, said the game at Scope was a big deal, because it was the first chance many of his players to play in an arena such as Norfolk Scope.

Hopefully the Cavs and Lady Cavs can make it back to Scope for this season’s Eastern Region Tournament. For all but perhaps a couple Cavalier players, their chance to play basketball in such a venue will pass once they’ve graduated high school.

In a quick aside, writing first as a fan and secondly as a reporter, having Scope as a long-term home to regional tournaments and high school basketball in general is truly exciting, and I think nearly all Eastern Region fans will feel the same way in a couple months.

Nansemond River’s boys team had mixed results on the court in Rockingham County, N.C. between Christmas and New Year’s. The Warriors lost in overtime to a defending North Carolina state champion, and then they blew out Patrick County.

There were lessons to learn from both games. NR head coach Ed Young said his squad “got some Carolina barbeque” from the officiating in the first game.

NR was called for 28 fouls in the second half after being called for six in the first half. “We were whistled for a foul on every possession in overtime,” said Young.

Against Patrick Co., the Warriors “let out their aggression and did a lot of things right from start to finish,” Young said.

Heading down to Rockingham on Monday, the Warriors attended a college game in Chapel Hill, Rutgers vs. North Carolina. As a bonus, the Warriors got to tour the UNC Hall of Fame. “Tremendous,” “beautiful,” and “really enjoyed” was how Young described that experience. There are many diehard UNC fans who haven’t had a chance at a day like that.

Experiences like that are why tournaments and teams getting to travel are a valuable part of high school sports.