Warriors take down Indian River

Published 8:18 pm Saturday, February 9, 2013

The third-seeded Nansemond River Warriors faced the sixth-seeded Indian River Braves in the quarterfinal round of the Southeastern District tournament on Friday at King’s Fork High School. The Warriors led the majority of the way and used some strong defense and transition play to win 72-56.

The victory was important not only because it allows Nansemond River to advance to the semifinal round on Tuesday, but it also guarantees the team a first-round game in the regional tournament.

Since a recent 75-74 overtime loss at home on Senior Night to Western Branch, Nansemond River has been in what head coach Ed Young described as a funk. The team was winning games, but it was having to dig itself out of holes to do it each time.

Nansemond River junior Jalen Warren looks to get by Indian River’s defense during the Warriors’ 72-56 win in the quarterfinal round of the district tournament on Friday at King’s Fork High School.

Email newsletter signup

Young put things in perspective for his players going into the first game of the district tourney.

“I simply said, ‘Everybody’s 0-0 and you are the defending district tournament champions,’” he said. “‘A win Friday guarantees you at least two games — a semifinal (and) opening round of regional. But you’re the defending champions. Don’t you think you should be in the championship game on Friday to defend your title? You’re not going to do it the way you’ve been playing, because the teams get better now. So you have to make a decision on what you’re going to do.’”

“And I thought they practiced well (Thursday),” he said on Friday. “Shoot-around went well today. I thought their focus was a lot better, and we didn’t get into those dips that we’ve had, down 30-19 (to) Oscar Smith, 11-4 to Hickory.”

On Friday, the Warriors outscored the Braves every quarter, and Young actually attributed any hiccups in the team’s momentum to possibly ill-timed substitutions that he and the coaching staff made.

He was especially proud of how well his team switched between four different defenses, giving particular credit to senior forward Kendric Washington.

“He was the guy responsible for calling those (defenses),” Young said. “I really thought he did a really good job of that.”

Senior forward Ed Drew led the Warriors with 23 points, going 9-of-11 from the free-throw line with 11 rebounds, four blocks and three steals.

In the fourth quarter, Drew also contributed what Young described as “two monster dunks off beautiful passes from Khalil Carroll” that proved to be pivotal to helping end any threat from the Braves.

Carroll had a solid and steady game with seven assists, five points, four rebounds and three steals.

“We’re a very good team in transition, so in transition, when I had the ball in my hands, I knew that I had guys that were open, and I made a good pass so they could finish,” Carroll said.

Young said junior guard Devon Oakley emerged from a slump, scoring 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting and going 10-of-12 from the foul line.

Sophomore guard Scott Spencer quietly produced a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards to go with four blocks. Washington had nine boards and four blocks.

Strong conditioning and an expanded rotation of players were two other factors Young said contributed to the win and will prove to be key moving forward in this tournament season.

This win sets up a semifinal showdown on Tuesday with King’s Fork, which won on Friday night, as well.

“I know it’s going to be tough,” Carroll said. “The atmosphere is going to be ridiculous.”

Young gave his analysis of the upcoming match-up.

“I don’t subscribe to the theory it’s hard to beat a team three times, but on the other hand, when you play a team as good as King’s Fork, it is hard to beat them three times, because they do a variety of things well, and we’re playing on their home floor,” he said. “But to be the best, you’re going to have to beat those kind of teams, and we realize they’re ahead of us, and that’s our next opportunity.”