Camp keeps NRHS team fresh

Published 8:57 pm Thursday, August 2, 2012

Members of Nansemond River High School’s boys’ basketball team celebrate winning the championship trophy at the 11th Annual Blue Marlin Team Camp at Virginia Wesleyan recently.

By Matthew Hatfield

Correspondent

For the second year in a row and the third time since 2008, the Nansemond River Warriors basketball team wound up as champions at Virginia Wesleyan’s Team Camp.

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The Warriors finished 7-1 on the weekend at the 11th Annual Blue Marlin Team Camp, winning four straight playoff games in the 16-team bracket by double-digits.

Nansemond River ousted Cox and West Point in the first two rounds of tournament play, and then avenged a one-point loss to Booker T. Washington by thumping the Bookers 61-25 in the semifinals.

In the championship game, the Warriors had an outstanding performance defensively, holding reigning two-time Peninsula District tournament champs Menchville to only a field goal the entire first half and building a 21-5 advantage by intermission.

A total of 15 different individuals had playing time in Nansemond River’s 58-27 championship rout of Menchville. Warriors players and coaches view the accomplishment as a confidence-booster and a carryover from their solid showing earlier this off-season in the Hoop Group Team Camp in Pennsylvania.

“It means a lot. Some people may doubt us and what we’ll do during the regular season, but we’re showing each other what we can do and not worrying about the talk,” said Kendric Washington, a 6-foot-4 swingman who made key plays throughout the camp.

With nine seniors having graduated from last season’s 21-5 team, the Warriors have to lean heavily on the few returning varsity players who logged significant minutes a season ago, namely Washington and 6-foot-5 power forward Ed Drew, who was participating in AAU during the VWC Team Camp. It means taking on more of a leadership role, too.

“We’ve got to keep the young guys straight, make sure they know where they’re at and continue to stay focused,” Washington said.

“It’s kind of hard, but we’ve got to step up to the challenge if we want to be good this year. Everything has gotten better this summer. From guard play stepping up to rebounding and everybody off the bench stepping up, we’re making strides, and everybody’s playing pretty well.”

The weekend served as an opportunity for a few unknown members of the program to get noticed against quality competition. One of them was Devon Oakley, a 6-foot-3 rising junior guard who scored 13 points in the win over Menchville and 17 in the semis against Booker T.

Washington and Scott Spencer, a rising 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, each collected six rebounds in their last game on Saturday afternoon. Those two, along with Oakley and junior Marvin Branch, played multiple positions on the floor in the Team Camp. Having that type of versatility is a necessity in the Warriors’ program.

“That’s our style of play,” Washington said. “We can’t have just one person specifically play only one position because we may need somebody at another position. If you play the ‘1’, you might have to also be able to play the ‘2’ or play some at the ‘3’. It’s kind of like if someone’s out or goes down you’ve got to fill in for them.”

William Goodman scored 11 points against Menchville, and Khalil Carroll handed out six assists. Nansemond River shot 10-of-13 from the foul line in the championship and out-rebounded the Monarchs 29-21.

Nansemond River’s deep rotation paid dividends over the course of those eight games. Others who made their presence felt at some point or another, whether it was starting or off the bench, included senior guard Cristian Alexander and junior forward Adrian Goodman.

Regardless of where the team is picked in the preseason, their plan is to continue to approach things like they always have in the past, even if they don’t have that bona-fide star player to do a heavy bulk of the scoring.

“We’re just trying to win games, hopefully stay under the radar and be the underdogs,” Washington said.

For a program that has won 78 percent of its games in the past eight seasons, staying underdogs for long might be tricky.