Warriors join the fray

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013

By Matthew Hatfield


Although it’s only June and basketball season is a good five months away, the Nansemond River Warriors are preparing as if it’s just around the corner, which comes as no surprise for a program that has won no fewer than 15 games in each of the past 13 seasons.

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Coach Ed Young has his team busy this off-season, participating in various summer leagues and team camps. That included the sixth annual Boo Williams Team Camp last weekend in Hampton, where the Warriors were the lone unbeaten out of 12 teams through pool play at 5-0 overall, beating the likes of Green Run, Norview, Perquimans (N.C.), Hampton and Heritage all by double-figures.

In the Gold Bracket semifinals, Nansemond River ran into a hot Woodside team that jumped out to a 13-point lead in the first half, and though the Warriors would battle back within one in the second half, they fell short against the Wolverines 71-61.

“I thought it was a great first camp of the summer for us. More importantly than our record, I saw a lot of good things in terms of team chemistry, players playing their role, good energy with running and defense,” Young said.

“Even though we lost that last game that put us out of the championship, I didn’t really mind that because those first five games were so good. We just didn’t play well in one game, and our energy level was down, and Woodside took it to us. But if we can play like we did the first five all summer and into next year, we’ll be all right.”

Providing plenty of highlight reel plays were rising seniors Devon Oakley and Daniel Wallace, as well as Class of 2015 prospect Scott Spencer.

Oakley led the team in scoring, getting his points on drives to the basket, from the foul line and beyond the arc. He put up 40 points in the first two games and performed steady throughout.

“Devon was Devon,” said Young. “I won’t say he shined, but he probably averaged about 15 points for the weekend. He got it done on both ends of the floor, plus gave us that veteran leadership, which is what we really need out of him. I think if he didn’t talk it, he showed it, which is good.”

Wallace was a constant force around the basket, scoring, rebounding and swatting away shots. After missing most of his junior season due to injury, he looks ready to be a major contributor for the Warriors for his senior year.

“Daniel picked his game up significantly,” Young added. “He did a much better job than he had been on the inside, giving us great composure as well as rebounding.”

Playing on the AAU circuit with Boo Williams’ 16U travel team, Spencer showed his athleticism with some impressive dunks on offense and blocks on the defensive end.

“Spencer played great at both ends of the floor,” remarked Young. “He made some shots, key buckets and had some great blocked shots, probably three or four each game, and all of them would’ve been a bucket for the opposing team.”

While those three are the headliners, several others made their mark and figure into the Warriors’ plans prominently for the 2013-14 campaign.

“Khalil Carroll, running our offense 95 percent of the time, did a great job. The other big thing was guys off the bench played their roles. Jalen Warren stepped up some games. Darius Jones played a lot of games both Future League and varsity and did well when he was in at the point. Adrian Drew, Aaron Parker and Jalen Ruffin all did what we’re hoping their roles are going to be.”

Young hopes the weekend’s showing is a sign of things to come.

“This weekend, I saw some progress. It’s a big step in the right direction, but it’ll be an ongoing process from now until March 1st,” he said.

“One day, one game or one camp doesn’t fix things and give you all the solutions. Our kids realize how good they can be when they play together and made that statement out loud. We know our program’s record speaks for itself and have to keep earning that every year, and the summer time is when you start building towards that, trying to get better.”