Warrior rally stuns King’s Fork

Published 11:07 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rebound: Nansemond River senior Michael Copeland gathers in a rebound in traffic during Tuesday night’s city rivalry game at King’s Fork. Nansemond River beat King’s Fork 62-55.

With a frantic 18-2 run in the final three minutes, Nansemond River escaped King’s Fork’s Kennel with a 62-55 victory in an early showdown of contenders in the Southeastern District boys basketball race.

River’s trapping defense changed the whole game in seconds. Steals and turnovers led to an electric sequence of Warrior fast breaks sparked by NR point guard Dontrell Brite.

Fork led 50-40 early in the fourth quarter, 53-44 after Zach Johnson’s three-point play in the lane with 4:49 remaining and still 53-45 about two minutes later. Controlling the game for most of the first 30 minutes wasn’t enough for the Bulldogs to put away a city rival, though.

Email newsletter signup

Brite finished a fast break with a lay-up, made a contorted jumper in the paint to finish a break started by Daniel Wallace’s blocked shot at the opposite end of the court, then got a steal near midcourt and drove in for another lay-up, all in about 30 seconds to cut KF’s lead to 53-51.

“I was disappointed with how we came out. We were lethargic. We were horrendous defensively,” said Nansemond River head coach Ed Young.

“We backed off and didn’t attack (King’s Fork) like we needed to, and that went for both ends of the floor,” Young said.

Once the Warrior rally started, Brite and teammates kept attacking. A Bulldog timeout didn’t slow the momentum. Brite stole the dribble from a KF guard and went in for a lay-up to tie the game with 1:47 left.

NR center John Joyce intercepted a KF pass near midcourt as the Warrior press picked up more intensity. A few seconds later, Brite drove inside and set up Shannon Evans to bury a three-pointer for a 56-53 NR lead with 1:20 to play.

KF forward Raquan Miller sank two at the line to get the Bulldogs within 56-55.

The Bulldogs sent Evans to the line, and he made both shots of a one-and-one. Two more NR steals sealed the outcome.

Evans got a steal and made 1-of-2 at the line with 0:28 left, giving the Warriors a 59-55 edge. Brite, fittingly, got another a few seconds later and turned it into a lay-up. Brite finished with 21 points, four steals and four assists.

Evans and Wallace scored 18 points each. Wallace, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, kept the Warriors within shouting distance for the first three quarters.

KF’s main big man, senior Zach Johnson, scored six points in the first few minutes, and the Bulldogs led 17-13 after a quarter.

The Bulldogs survived a technical foul called on head coach Josh Worrell and actually picked up momentum from there.

Jaylen White finished a break with a lay-up for a 21-14 KF lead seconds after the technical call wound up costing KF only a point, despite four Warrior free throws and what amounted to back-to-back possessions.

Bulldog guard Jacorey Smith threw down a one-handed dunk late in the period. Fellow guard Rod Parrett drained a three-pointer for a 10-point KF lead. The Bulldogs led 35-27 at halftime. Ten Bulldogs scored in the first half.

Wallace, NR’s back-up center, scored 10 points in the first half.

“It’s always our game plan to get the ball inside,” Evans said. “Daniel stepped up really well for us in the clutch.”

“I just had to come out and be a team player. I had to give all the effort I could while I was on the floor,” Wallace said.

After an Evans three cut KF’s lead to 39-36, Parrett hit a triple at the other end as the clock neared three minutes to play in the third period. The Bulldogs took a 48-40 lead to the fourth quarter.

Johnson led the Bulldogs with nine points and 14 rebounds. Parrett finished with eight points.

“King’s Fork did a great, great job with their game plan tonight,” Young said.

“I thought if we got the lead, we wouldn’t lose it. The problem was it took us forever to get it,” Young said.

Nansemond River (2-0, 2-0) faces its other Suffolk rival Friday, hosting Lakeland at 7:30 p.m.

King’s Fork (1-2, 1-1) gets its first road game of the season Friday, going to Great Bridge.