Senior sub saves Lady Warriors

Published 11:12 pm Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nansemond River's Cierra Mobley (21) is greeted in the team's huddle following her two free throws gave the Lady Warriors a 62-60 lead with 0:26 remaining in Thursday night's Southeastern District semifinal against Grassfield at King's Fork. Mobley scored all eight of her points in the last 1:28 of play to push the Lady Warriors to a 64-61 win and into Friday night's district final against Western Branch.

Nansemond River’s Cierra Mobley scored none of her team’s first 55 points and played only a coupleĀ  minutes here and there through the first 30 minutes of action against Grassfield in Thursday’s Southeastern District Tournament semifinal.

When NR’s starting point guard, Ashante Humphries, fouled out with 1:48 left in the game and the Lady Warriors trailing 58-55, Mobley got the call.

Mobley swished a tying three-pointer a few seconds later and went on to score eight of NR’s final nine points of the game and provide the final heroics for a 64-61 NR win after Grassfield led by 14 with 5:29 to go.

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“It means a lot,” said Mobley, a senior and four-year veteran of NR’s varsity squad, “because lately I haven’t been doing as well as I should be doing. To do something like that makes the season worthwhile.”

Grassfield raced out to a 13-4 lead in the first five minutes and held a safe margin most of the way. Most of the night, the Lady Grizzlies, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, weren’t bothered by Nansemond River’s usually athletic, pressuring defense.

Grassfield led 25-13 early in the second period. The Lady Warriors chipped into the lead, largely thanks to work in the paint by center Delisha Sharpe.

Sharpe’s rebounding provided much of NR’s offense in the first half while little else worked. Sharpe had 10 points and nine boards by halftime as Grassfield led 32-22.

A three-pointer by Jenel Cannon brought NR within 35-29 a couple minutes into the third period. The Lady Warriors cut Grassfield’s lead to 44-40 with less than a minute left in the third.

Grassfield regained the momentum in a major way, though. A rash of Nansemond River turnovers with Grassfield turning most of them into easy baskets took the margin up to 56-42 when the Lady Warriors called a timeout.

“I asked them, ‘Do you have five minutes in you? If you do, you have to give it to me. We have plenty of time, but I need five minutes of playing hard and executing,’ ” said Nansemond River head coach Calvin Mason, Sr.

Even after the motivational speech in the huddle, Grassfield still led 58-46 a couple minutes later.

Sharpe scored off an offensive board to cut the lead into single digits. Briana McClain’s drive into the lane and tough lay-up made it 58-53 Grassfield with 3:13 left.

Jenel Cannon’s fast-break lay-up made it 58-55. Mobley’s first field goal of the game tied it with 1:28 left.

Grassfield regained the lead, 60-58, and the sides traded empty possessions before Mobley was fouled with 0:39 left giving her one-and-one at the line.

Mobley missed the first free throw and the rebound was batted around in the lane until Mobley gathered it, drove to the hoop going to her right and scored with a high-arching shot off the glass while being fouled.

Mobley missed the free throw. Grassfield raced down and missed a shot. Mobley got that rebound and was fouled. She made both at the line for a 62-60 NR lead, NR’s first lead of the contest.

The result was far from decided though. Grassfield had a chance to tie at the line, but only got one of two with 0:12 left.

Mobley made 1-of-2 at the line with 0:11 left and the rebound on her miss wound up with Cannon. Cannon made 1-of-2 with six seconds left.

Grassfield managed a 27-foot three-pointer that bounded off the back of the rim at the horn.

Sharpe finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Cannon added 17 points.

“It wasn’t at all planned, but that’s sports,” Mason said about the ball winding up in Mobley’s hands in the last couple minutes.

“For a senior to play that role off the bench, it would be hard for some people to accept. She started as a sophomore but has taken to her role off the bench for this team,” Mason said.

“Someone like that can make a big difference for a team,” Mason said.

Nansemond River (18-5) advances to Friday night’s district final against No. 1 Western Branch (22-2).

The Lady Bruins handed the Lady Warriors a 72-37 loss in Chesapeake two weeks ago.