NRHS girls fall 66-55

Published 10:53 pm Thursday, February 7, 2013

If Nansemond River’s girls’ basketball team had won Wednesday’s home game against Hickory, it would have forced a re-match later in the week to decide which team would earn the eighth and final playoff spot in the district. The Lady Warriors played for their postseason lives, but ultimately fell 66-55.

Nansemond River head coach R. Calvin Mason saw his team’s familiar problems this season coming back to haunt it, describing the game as “kind of a mirror image of what we’ve done the whole year.”

Nansemond River senior point guard Ashante Humphries takes to the air against visiting Hickory on Wednesday night. Humphries led her team with 17 points, but the Lady Hawks won 66-55 to secure their spot in the playoffs and keep the Lady Warriors out.

“We just didn’t get things done,” he said. “We didn’t execute well, and teams that don’t execute this time of year don’t get a chance to keep playing.”

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Mason said that his team was a little flat early and simply did not play well on the defensive side of the ball. He also retired one of the leading reasons he felt his team was struggling this year.

“We’ve played enough games where I’m not going to blame it on youth,” he said. “We just haven’t done it.”

Poor shooting was also a major ingredient to coming up short against the Lady Hawks.

“Shooting covers up so many mistakes,” Mason said. “When you don’t shoot well, then you’re always scrambling on defense.”

The Lady Warriors exited the first quarter in a 15-4 hole, but recovered significantly.

“They did a good job the second quarter, they did a good job the early part of the third quarter,” Mason said. “We’ve had one quarter every game this year where we just haven’t played well.”

His team only trailed 21-19 at halftime. However, during the second half, failure to rebound and cover Hickory’s shooters helped the visiting team’s lead grow. By the end of the third it was 46-37 and Nansemond River struggled to get within 10 in the fourth.

Senior point guard Ashante Humphries led the team with 17 points, sophomore guard Laura Ortiz had 13 and senior forward Sonnae Gibson scored 11.

As the Lady Warriors finish the season with a 4-18 overall record, 3-15 in the district, it represents an unsavory first for Coach Mason who just finished his seventh year as the Nansemond River varsity girls’ head coach.

“It’s my first rebuilding year, first losing season,” he said.

He reflected on the efforts of this year’s group of players.

“They gave me what they have, and sometimes it’s just not enough to win games on a consistent basis,” he said. “And I tell them all the time, effort without execution — you’re still right back at square one. And that’s kind of where we’ve been.”

Mason upheld hope of improvement in the future.

“We’ve just had some growing pains,” he said. “We’ve just got to continue to work hard, and the program will recover. We’ve got enough youth that it will recover.”

Their coach appreciated what this year’s team meant for the program.

“We had to go through this year in order to get to next year,” Mason said. “I always thought that next year and the year after were the years that we would probably be a lot more competitive than we are now.”

Gibson, one of the team’s outgoing seniors, reflected on the team of 2012-13.

“I feel like we played together as a team and we grew,” Sonnae Gibson said. “I also feel like we all came together as one. And even though we didn’t get along in the beginning, we knew how to tolerate each other.”

Gibson and Humphries took a moment to impart some words to next year’s squad.

“Just play hard as a team and you guys pretty much know how each other plays, so it shouldn’t be as hard as it was this year,” Gibson said. “And just have fun.”

“I would tell them to push each other in practice so the games become easier, and always remember that you’re a team, and you can’t do it by yourself,” Humphries said.