WB girls outmatch Lady Warriors

Published 8:47 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nansemond River sophomore guard Laura Ortiz tries to navigate around Western Branch during the Lady Warriors’ 69-50 loss at home on Tuesday night.

The Nansemond River Lady Warriors fought to the end, but ultimately were outmatched against a more seasoned Western Branch squad, leading to a 69-50 defeat at home on Tuesday.

“We’re (fielding) a lot of young kids, and they’re going to make mistakes, and there are going to be times where they’re kind of overwhelmed,” NR head coach Calvin Mason said. “Western Branch is a senior team with two kids who signed (Division I) scholarships, so I can’t expect them to go out and be able to match that right now. They just don’t have the experience to do it.”

A key to the Lady Warriors’ woes was a failure to box out, which involves players near the hoop gaining a position on defense where they can rebound the ball in the event that the opposing team misses. The Lady Bruins out-rebounded Nansemond River 48-29 and had 16 offensive rebounds.

Nansemond River freshman center Sabree Clegg fights against the Western Branch defense during Tuesday night’s 69-50 home loss to the Lady Bruins.

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“They had second and third opportunities and you don’t have to shoot well when you’re getting two and three, four shots at the basket,” Mason said.

Time and again, 6-foot-2 Western Branch senior Da’Lishia Griffin grabbed an offensive rebound, which led to several baskets by her or one of her teammates. She ended up with 19 points and 18 rebounds.

“I just thought Griffin did a good job of pounding the boards, and she didn’t have to score outside because she just worked it inside,” Mason said. “Again, that’s an experienced player. She’s a senior, I’m starting a freshman center, so the difference is going to show.”

Aside its two senior team captains who start, Nansemond River’s starting lineup illustrates its youth: two freshmen, center Sabree Clegg and guard Aneka Yelverton, and a sophomore, Laura Ortiz.

The Lady Bruins were ahead 61-26 after the third quarter, and their full court press helped them to that end, routinely creating Nansemond River turnovers.

“Their press bothered us, and that’s something we work on every day, but again, the difference between being in practice and being in a game is just like night and day,” Mason said. “And a lot of times it wasn’t even steals, it was just us making bad passes.”

Nansemond River experienced a resurgence in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lady Bruins 24-8, largely thanks to senior forward Sonnae Gibson, who ended up with 18 points and five rebounds for the game.

Senior point guard Ashante Humphries ended up with 14 points, five rebounds and two assists and was eager to see more play out of her team like the kind that ended the game.

“We got to learn to pick each other up more,” she said. “Once one person gets started, it seems like the team feeds off each other. So, that sparked it.”

“We don’t have the record that we want, but they don’t quit,” Mason said. “They play through things. As we get more game experience, we’re going to cut down on our mistakes, we’re going to cut down on our turnovers.”

Mason expects his team to be much better by late January, and not just because they will have more experience by then.

“I’ve been (at Nansemond River) for seven years with the girls, I’ve coached JV boys here, I’ve been in the city coaching for three or four years, and this has been one of the hardest working groups and they get along,” he said. “And that’s not always the case with girls.”

Nansemond River (2-6, 2-5) will head to Dale, Va. to play Meadowbrook on Dec. 26 in the first of three games for the Lady Warriors that will be part of the Lloyd C. Bird Holiday Hoops Tournament.