Warriors run by Wildcats to make final

Published 10:28 pm Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nansemond River’s Ashton Moore scored a team-high 15 points as the No. 1 Warriors beat No. 4 Great Bridge 67-53 in the Southeastern District Tournament semifinals Wednesday at King’s Fork. The Warriors (20-4) will face No. 3 Oscar Smith in the district final Friday night.

On the strength of a 16-0 run in the second half, Nansemond River’s boys basketball team moved into the final of the Southeastern District Tournament with a 67-53 victory over Great Bridge Wednesday night at King’s Fork.

By being the regular-season district champs, the Warriors (20-4) entered the contest versus No. 4 Great Bridge as automatic favorites. It was the Warriors, though, looking to avenge a loss at Great Bridge from a couple weeks ago.

For the first three quarters of the semifinal, the Wildcats looked completely capable of taking down the Warriors again.

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NR’s Shannon Evans hit his second three-pointer of the game for the final scoring of the third period to increase NR’s lead, which hadn’t been more than seven points at any point in the first three quarters, to 47-41 going to the last eight minutes.

The Warriors proceeded to blank the Wildcats through the first 4:50 of the final quarter.

Michael Copeland’s three-point play in the low post, with Dontrell Brite’s drive and assist finding Copeland, then Ashton Moore draining a three-pointer, again with Brite’s slashing and passing setting the play up, for the offensive highlights as the Warriors moved out to a 60-41 lead by the time Great Bridge stopped the run.

Moore led NR with 15 points. Brite, Michael Copeland and John Joyce added 10 points each.

Great Bridge’s main answer was small, but super-quick, guard Taj Owens.

The Warriors rolled to an 11-4 lead in the first five minutes. Joyce, the Warriors’ 6-foot-5 center, led NR on both ends of the court early on, scoring two hoops and working on what turned out to be 11 boards and six blocks for the game.

Great Bridge got back in the game with Owens and offensive rebounding. Owens intercepted a Warrior pass and went in for a lay-up to make it 13-13. The first period ended 15-15. The Wildcats scored on their fifth shot of a possession to make it 19-19 early in the second period.

The Warriors edged in front for a 33-30 halftime lead. Joyce led the Warriors with nine points in the first half.

Evans hit a deep three, two long strides beyond the arc on the right wing, to take NR’s lead to 38-31.

Owens answered with back-to-back fast-break baskets to bring Great Bridge back within a possession.

Copeland made two free throws and Moore made a driving 12-footer to put NR up seven again, 42-35.

The Wildcats fought back to a 44-41 NR lead and every sign pointed to the finish going down to the wire before Nansemond River’s huge run.

Nansemond River will get No. 3 Oscar Smith, a 65-44 victor over No. 7 Lakeland in Wednesday evening’s first semifinal game, in the final Friday night at King’s Fork. The Warriors beat Oscar Smith in both meetings this season, 65-41 at NR in December and 78-74 at Oscar Smith in January.