Centers of attention

Published 8:25 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2011

First-team: Junior Delisha Sharpe earned first-team All-Southeastern District honors in her second season as the starting center for Nansemond River. Sharpe averaged 17 points per game as the Lady Warriors went 19-7, finished second in the Southeastern District season and tournament and reached the quarterfinals of the Eastern Region Tournament.

Suffolk’s girls basketball season was clearly the year of the center, and Nansemond River junior Delisha Sharpe and King’s Fork freshman Khadedra Croker will be back, and likely more dominant, for their respective teams come next year.

Both Nansemond River and King’s Fork thrived on quickness, on both ends of the court. The Lady Warriors and Lady Bulldogs could run three strings worth of talented, skilled guards out on the floor, making 32 minutes seem much longer for most opponents than it did for NR or KF.

Both head coaches though, Calvin Mason Sr. at Nansemond River and Maurice Fofana at King’s Fork, said throughout the season their trapping, high-pressure defenses work a lot better with all-district centers controlling everything around the basket for the few times their defenses backfire.

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Then when the offense is stumbling, the Lady Warriors or Lady Bulldogs can usually keep the scoreboard moving. An errant shot, then having Sharpe, at 6-foot-2, or Croker, at 6-foot-3, go get it off the backboard, was usually a smart play.

Croker, up from the Lady Bulldog JV team a season ago, totaled triple-doubles, with points, rebounds and blocks, in more than half of KF’s games. She had a streak of seemingly nothing but triple-doubles, sometimes with more blocks than points, during a 9-2 stretch for the Lady Bulldogs late in the season.

The thought of seeing Croker for two or three games a season for three more years can’t be an easy one for the other nine Southeastern District coaches.

In her second season at Nansemond River after transferring from Portsmouth Christian, Sharpe averaged 17 points and 13 rebounds per game.

More important than the numbers, Sharpe led the Lady Warriors to arguably their best season since moving into Group AAA and the Southeastern District 15 years ago. NR’s second-place finish in the district standings was a program best as was reaching the final eight of the Eastern Region Tournament.

Guards Ashante Humphries, Briana McClain and Jenel Cannon starred for the Lady Warriors with sweet shooting on the offensive end and hassling opposing guards all over the floor defensively. NR got outstanding performances from everyone on its squad at some point, namely Denel Fox, Sonnae Gibson and Cierra Mobley, and that’s just from the district and regional postseason games.

While the Lady Warrior guards and forwards could trade off having big games, Sharpe was, and will be next year with most of the same teammates, the steady force inside.

Sharpe was the lone Suffolk player to be named first-team All-Southeastern District and is the Suffolk News-Herald’s Player of the Year for 2010-11.

All-Suffolk News-Herald

2010-11 Girls Basketball Teams

First Team

Delisha Sharpe – Nansemond River, C (Player of the Year)

Khadedra Croker – King’s Fork, C

Ashante Humphries – Nansemond River, G

Briana McClain