Warriors have a big week

Published 10:07 pm Friday, June 28, 2013

By Matthew Hatfield

Correspondent

A total of 22 varsity teams from the Hampton Roads area, Northern Virginia and North Carolina made the trek to Norfolk for the first annual Jeff Jones Old Dominion University Basketball Team Camp last weekend.

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Among the participants were the Nansemond River Warriors, who more than held their own with the Monarchs’ new coaching staff watching closely.

Though there was no single-elimination tournament to decide a champion, Nansemond River concluded the weekend with a 4-1 record. Only Norcom posted a better record, finishing 5-0 on the weekend. Norcom and Nansemond River have met only once so far this off-season on the hardwood, with the Warriors winning that encounter in the King’s Fork Summer League on a buzzer-beater from rising junior Scott Spencer.

In their four wins over Denbigh, Northeastern (N.C.), Tallwood and Thomas Edison, the Warriors won by an average of 12.5 points per game. Coach Ed Young liked what he saw from a number of different individuals at the ODU Team Camp.

“The camp was a definite benefit to us,” Young said. “We got to test ourselves against quality competition throughout the whole weekend, were put in a couple of pressure situations in the games with Northeastern and Green Run, and the exposure to a first-class college university like Old Dominion’s is hard to beat.

Nansemond River’s lone loss came in Sunday’s 50-48 finale to Green Run. It was the third meeting between the two schools this off-season, with Green Run winning the head-to-head battle at the Maury Summer League and Nansemond River avenging that defeat with a win at the Boo Williams Team Camp.

The Warriors fell behind by 12 in the first half and were able to tie the score up within seven minutes, but the Stallions converted four key free-throws in the final two minutes to hang on for a narrow victory.

“Really, it was kind of a carbon copy from the weekend before, where we played great for about four or five games and didn’t play well in the last one,” Young said.

“Naturally, there are things as a coach that I see we have to improve on, but overall, I’m pleased with the effort and progress we’re making. All these experiences in the off-season can be valuable teaching tools for us as coaches, finding out who can and can’t do certain things, and there’s learning lessons for our players as we look to get better and ready for next season.”

Carrying the Warriors offensively once again were their two wings, Spencer and senior Devon Oakley. Spencer averaged 16 points per game over five contests, with his best performance coming in a 46-45 win over Northeastern when he poured in 21. Oakley scored no less than nine points in any of the five games with his highlight performance coming in a 61-33 rout of Tallwood, when he tallied 19.

“Obviously, we’re counting on those two guys to give us major production and do so at both ends of the floor,” Young continued. “They’re both capable of scoring 20 or more at any time. What helps, too, is that neither really has to command a bunch of shots to get their points, so that helps keep us in the flow of what we’re trying to do, and we don’t become too dependent on them hitting shots to be successful.”

To stay fresh, the Warriors used a deep rotation, a staple of their program over the years under Young. While Oakley and Spencer were the main scoring threats, senior point guard Khalil Carroll handed out several assists, and senior forward Adrian Coleman contributed on the backboards. Reserves Jalen Warren, Darius Jones and Adrian Drew all gave lifts off the bench.

After a day off from games on Monday, Nansemond River resumed its busy off-season on Tuesday in the Maury Summer League Playoffs, defeating Bethel 49-36 behind 18 points from senior center Daniel Wallace.

The Warriors moved on to Wednesday’s semifinals against top-seeded Kecoughtan and prevailed in an exciting back-and-forth affair, 69-66. Seeking their first championship of this summer, Nansemond River fell to host Maury, 67-47 on Thursday night, trailing by as many as 28. Oakley scored 21 points in defeat.