Loss still spurs Warrior work

Published 10:50 pm Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nansemond River Shannon Evans is one of four returning starters for the Warriors as they get ready for a new basketball season starting Friday with a visit by Grassfield. Nansemond River won the Southeastern District season championship and had a 21-6 overall record last season.

Nansemond River returned to the top of the Southeastern District boys basketball pack last season.

Two seasons without a banner wouldn’t be considered a drought for most programs. The Warriors, though, won the Southeastern season title eight straight years before King’s Fork claimed the crowns in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

The district race will be as intense as ever. At the same time, since the Warriors have four returning starters, nine seniors and 12 returning letterwinners in all, the bar is high for Nansemond River.

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“I’m really, really excited for the season. This is the most seniors I’ve had on a team in 22 years of high school coaching. We’re anxious to start playing,” said Nansemond River head coach Ed Young.

Last season was successful in many ways. The Warriors finished 21-6. How the season ended lingers into this new campaign, however, and that’s by Young’s design.

Booker T. Washington routed the Warriors in the Eastern Region quarterfinals. A box score and an article from that night are taped to the wall in Young’s office. Nothing from NR’s 21 victories is with it on the wall, which usually resembles a messy scrapbook.

“It’s not to discourage the guys from the overall effect from last year. It’s meant as a reminder of how the season ended. It ended with a 40-point loss in front of 5,000-plus people,” Young said.

“The last game of last season has been on my mind, and I’ve tried to make sure to remind them throughout the offseason. It’s been a reminder that we need to get bigger, stronger and better,” Young said.

Nansemond River’s offseason included trophies at team camps and winning the 18-team Hampton Roads Fall League in Hampton. When the season gets going, though, those are small markers the Warriors met as part of building on where they got last year.

“Our long-range goal is to get into the state tournament and then try to win it,” Young said, “but you don’t get there without working on your smaller goals, getting better each day in practice and doing what’s expected of you in each game.”

“We’re pushing each other a lot harder,” said starting forward Michael Copeland, “because Coach expects nothing less.”

“We have to play together and keep playing together. If we do that, anything’s possible this year,” said senior point guard Dontrell Brite.

Copeland and center John Joyce are the returning frontcourt starters. Brite and Shannon Evans are the starting guards.

Evans is the top returning scorer, having averaged 13 points a game last season. At 44 percent three-point shooting, Evans is one of the top shooters in the region.

Brite averaged 11.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.0 steals a game to make the second team All-District Team.

Copeland, at 6-foot-2, averaged 10 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. Joyce, at 6-foot-5, improved to become a key player in the last few games of last season.

“John can be a double-double-a-game guy,” Young said. With points, rebounds and blocks, Young wants to see a few triple-doubles from his center. Joyce and Ed Drew, a 6-foot-4 junior, are the two players Young noted as developing the most during the offseason.

Twelve Warriors averaged 10 or more minutes a game last season. The Warriors will play fast and keep fresh legs on the court more so this year.

Junior forward Kendric Washington is going to get the first chance at completing the starting five. Young can bring a full lineup of seniors, who’ve all played in key times in important games, off the bench in guards Kyle Moore and Warren Beatty, swingmen Jay Melendez and Sterling Peden and forward Chris McMillan. Six-foot-7 Daniel Wallace saw plenty of action at center last year as a freshman.

The Warriors open by hosting Grassfield Friday night before going up against city rivals King’s Fork and Lakeland next week, making for thrilling but difficult contests all the way around for so early in the season.


Nansemond River 2011-12

Boys basketball schedule

Head coach – Ed Young

Games start at 7:30 p.m. unless noted. Home games are in CAPS.


Tues. 12/6 at King’s Fork

Fri. 12/9 LAKELAND

Tues. 12/13 DEEP CREEK

Fri. 12/16 at Hickory

Tues. 12/20 at Great Bridge

Thurs. 12/22 SALEM (7:45 p.m.)


Fri. 1/6 at Oscar Smith

Tues. 1/10 at Indian River

Fri. 1/13 at Grassfield

Tues. 1/17 KING’S FORK

Thurs. 1/19 at Lakeland

Fri. 1/20 at Deep Creek

Fri. 1/27 HICKORY

Sat. 1/28 vs. L.C. Bird

at Green Run (7 p.m.)


Thurs. 2/2 at Western Branch