Warriors play strong at hoop team camp

Published 8:51 pm Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nansemond River guard Shannon Evans, here last season in a game against Oscar Smith, scored 18 points in NR’s game against St. Anthony’s (Jersey City, N.J.) at the Hoop Group Elite Team Camp in Reading, Pa. last weekend. The Warriors played five games, winning three, against some of the best programs in the East and in front of a big crowd of college coaches.

Summers for Nansemond River’s basketball team are always about getting better leading up to another season.

The Warriors took it a few steps more last weekend playing against five elite programs, including New Jersey’s St. Anthony’s, the consensus No. 1 high school team in the country last season, in the 11th Annual Hoop Group Elite Team Camp at Albright College in Reading, Pa.

The elite field of 32 schools is selective to say the least and a coveted opportunity for any school. In addition to valuable game experience for the squads, nearly 300 college coaches from all levels, including ACC and Big East coaches, are in attendance.

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“We’ve been trying to get into this camp for the past four years,” said Nansemond River head coach Ed Young, “but most schools invited continue to come back.”

“The Hoop Group people saw us play this past season and the invite finally came to us,” Young said.

The Warriors faced St. Anthony’s, coached by Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Hurley Sr., to open the camp. St. Anthony’s went 33-0 last season for its 26th New Jersey state championship in Hurley’s 39 years.

Nansemond River held a two-point lead twice in the opening half. St. Anthony’s led 25-20 at halftime and wound up with a 70-40 victory. Rising senior guard Shannon Evans scored 18 points for the Warriors.

“They’re very good at making you play their style which is similar to our game, but they are better at it with better athletes,” Young said.

Nansemond River went on to finish the camp with a 3-2 record.

The Warriors beat Arlington private school Bishop O’Connell 72-58. Evans scored 22 points to lead NR. Rising senior guard Dontrell Brite had 11 points, seven assists and four steals. Rising senior center John Joyce had 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

The Warriors beat Philadelphia’s Imhotep School 58-48. Imhotep won the Pennsylvania AA state championship (out of four classes) and went 32-3 last season.

Young said Imhotep is “maybe the quickest team we’ll see from now until the end of the regular season.”

NR edged The Hill, a prep school in Pottstown, Pa., 63-60. The Hill went 20-4 last season. Evans scored 18 points. Brite had 14 points, six assists and six steals. Rising senior forward Michael Copeland added 11 points.

Another New Jersey school, Hudson Catholic, beat the Warriors 68-63.

With how the Warriors played and “how the kids handled themselves off the court,” Young said, Nansemond River earned an invitation back for next year’s camp.

“They proved they can compete with some of the top programs in the East Coast,” Young said.