NRHS beats Bulldogs in conference showdown

Published 9:40 pm Friday, December 20, 2013

Nansemond River High School’s Adrian Coleman shoots as Nic Walker of King’s Fork High School defends during the Warriors’ 66-58 road victory on Thursday.

Nansemond River High School’s Adrian Coleman shoots as Nic Walker of King’s Fork High School defends during the Warriors’ 66-58 road victory on Thursday.

Nansemond River High School and host King’s Fork High School came into Thursday night’s conference showdown with a combined overall record of 12-1 this season.

The Bulldogs exercised control of the game’s pace in the first half, but senior Marvin Branch and the Warriors took the reins in the second, leading to their 66-58 win.

Nansemond River head coach Ed Young said with the possible exception of Lakeland High School, “nobody plays us harder than King’s Fork.”

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The stands of the Kennel were packed, with adult and student supporters for either team fully represented, but the home crowd had more to celebrate in the first 16 minutes of play.

“I was happy the way they came out,” Bulldogs head coach Josh Worrell said of his team.

Young said, “In the whole first half, we played their style of ball.”

He noted King’s Fork tends to hold onto their possessions longer, trying to spread a team out and then take it off the dribble. Nansemond River likes to run whenever it can, accumulating lots of possessions.

Worrell was regretful, however, that his team did not extend its leads when it had them.

At halftime, with the game tied 24-24, Young said, “I thought we had played poor, they had played good.”

He expressed this to his players, and Worrell’s issue with his team’s third-quarter play illustrated that the Warriors got Young’s message.

“We gave up 21 points in the third quarter, and you can’t beat very good basketball teams doing that,” Worrell said.

Nansemond River has several offensive weapons King’s Fork had to account for, but Marvin Branch was the one who was able to slip inside a hole in the Bulldogs’ zone defense.

“They were more keyed in on Daniel (Wallace),” Branch said, freeing him up for layups and put backs.

Branch tied for the game-high with 17 points, 13 coming in the second half, and also had eight rebounds.

“That’s just a bad situation for us,” Worrell said, adding that the difference between Branch’s average — about six points a game — and his Thursday total was the difference in the contest. “He was the x-factor.”

Branch was effective on the other side of the floor, as well, tackling the unenviable task of keeping up with speedy Bulldogs sophomore Deshaun Wethington.

“Marvin wanted him,” Young said. “I think he did a fair, respectable job.”

Wethington led his team with 14 points and five assists, but the Bulldogs struggled to convert on opportunities in the second half.

“We had three or four possessions where we stopped them, but we didn’t score,” Worrell said.

Warriors junior Scott Spencer had a good night offensively with 17 points to go with five rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block. Senior Daniel Wallace had 12 points and five blocks but a lackluster night on the glass with only four boards. It was his first game this year without a double-double.

Warriors leading-scorer, senior Devon Oakley, said he was thankful his teammates were shooting the ball well, because “I wasn’t, so I was glad to give them the ball.” However, he nailed a three-pointer in the fourth quarter, and said, “When I hit that jump shot, my offense came back.”

He ended up scoring 12 of his 16 in the final period, and totaled eight boards, two steals and two blocks for the game.

Despite the loss, Worrell saw the positives in his team’s performance and said, “We’ve just got to continue to believe in each other.”

Nansemond River (7-0, 2-0) travels to play Smithfield High School tonight and King’s Fork (6-2, 1-1) will return to action next week in the Christmas tournament it will be hosting.