Nansemond River holds its own at Hoop Group

Published 10:43 pm Saturday, July 21, 2012

By Matthew Hatfield
Correspondent

The Nansemond River boys’ basketball team put in another good appearance at the Hoop Group Team Camp in Reading, Pa., last weekend, winning four out of five contests against quality competition.

The camp, named the second-most-watched summer event in 2011, brings 64 high school teams in from along the East Coast to Albright College for two full days of basketball. As many as 12 games at a time were played at three different facilities, including outdoors.

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

Approximately 300 college coaches from all levels — even some of the well-known Division I coaches like Villanova’s Jay Wright, Georgetown’s John Thompson III and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, among others — attended the event.

Last summer, the Warriors went 3-2 the National Division, with the losses coming to nationally-ranked St. Anthony of Jersey City, ranked No. 1 in the country during the 2010-11 season, and Hudson Catholic, ranked fifth in New Jersey.

This summer, the Warriors played in the American Division, which features 32 teams. Though the American Division didn’t feature nearly as many powerhouse programs as the National Division, there were still 11 state champions and four teams that at some point last year were nationally ranked, teams that “could win a Virginia state championship,” according to Warriors coach Ed Young.

“We brought 14 players, only three of whom played varsity basketball for us last season, which is why I requested play in the American Division,” Young said.

In their first game, the Warriors faced St. Maria Garetti, a traditional title contender in the tough Baltimore Catholic League and lost a hard-fought game 54-52, with Nansemond River missing a 25-foot jumper at the buzzer.

Leading Garetti were a pair of Division I college basketball prospects, including Anthony Grower, who had 22 points and 13 rebounds. Rising 6-foot-4 senior forward Ed Drew paced the Warriors with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

The Warriors responded by beating Susquehanna Township of Harrisburg, Penn., 65-53. Drew had 21 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in the game. A couple of rising juniors, point guard Khalil Carroll and reserve swingman Marvin Branch, also provided a lift. Carroll recorded 12 points and eight assists, while Branch chipped in 12 points off the bench.

In their third game, the Warriors beat Largo (Md.) High School, 71-58. Largo was 21-5 last season and has a guard being recruited by several Division I schools, as well. The Warriors put forth what might have been their best showing of the camp, leading by as many as 25 points.

Four players scored in double figures, with Drew recording a double-double, 22 points and 13 rebounds. Branch scored 12 points. Carroll added 11 points and six assists. Rising senior guard William Goodman contributed 10 points.

Nansemond River’s next matchup was outdoors, where the Warriors rolled all over host school Reading, 77-60. Rising senior Kendric Washington was steady on both ends of the floor, with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Drew registered another double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Carroll tallied 12 points and six assists.

In the finale, the Warriors went toe-to-toe with the second-ranked team Buffalo’s Canisius High School, which finished 25-4 last season. Nansemond River closed out with a 54-50 victory, punctuated by a dunk from Drew with 10 seconds to go to seal the win.

“We went into this camp having lost three in a row in King’s Fork Summer League, and I knew this would be a tough place to get out of that funk,” Young said. “Much to my delight, we did so with at times some very good team play and great teamwork.”

“We made our share of bad plays and at times unforced errors, but this is a young team varsity-wise and it will take us a while to put together another Southeastern District title contender,” he added. “It may be January before we play the way I expect one of my teams to play, but we will get there. I will need to show an extra amount of patience, and we will do some things different than we have the past few years to fit the type of team we will have.’

Nansemond River will continue its off-season work, participating in the Fall Ball League in Hampton starting in late September. The Warriors also have been invited back to the Hoop Group Team Camp next July.

“I may go back to the National Division if we prove we can handle it after the upcoming season,” Young said.

The Warriors were only one of three Virginia teams invited to participate in the camp, along with private school powers Bishop O’Connell out of Arlington and Paul VI from Fairfax.