Warriors avenge ’13 loss to Bruins

Published 11:01 pm Wednesday, January 8, 2014

By Matthew Hatfield


Going into Tuesday night’s home contest against the Western Branch Bruins, the Nansemond River Warriors boys’ basketball team was focused on protecting its home court and getting revenge for last year’s 75-74 overtime loss to the Bruins.

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Spearheaded by a strong all-around performance from senior guard Devon Oakley on offense and hard-nosed defense by senior forward Marvin Branch, Nansemond River stayed in firm control en route to a 65-50 victory, keeping the Warriors undefeated, at 12-0.

“They beat us on Senior Night on a tip-back. Fans were running on the court. It was bad, because we wanted to send our seniors out right and couldn’t get it done at the end,” recalled Oakley of last year’s disappointing finish. “I couldn’t let Western Branch come here and win. I was hyped up and extra amped up to get this win.”

Oakley finished with 22 points on 8-of-10 from the field to go with 12 rebounds and four assists. Each time the Bruins managed to inch close, he responded with a key play to ignite the Warriors, who shot 48 percent from the floor and held Western Branch to 30.6 percent shooting.

“It’s a broken record on Oakley. Another game, another decent opponent, and he plays big against that type of competition. He’s reliable,” Nansemond River head coach Ed Young said.

“Sometimes I expect too much out of him, but he’s going to get his shot off, knows when to pull up and hit the jumper, gets some rebounds — and when he’s not shooting, he’s passing.”

At the end of the first quarter, Nansemond River trailed 15-14. However, the Warriors felt confident because of how they kept Western Branch star junior guard Nigel Ribeiro in check. Coming in, Ribeiro was averaging 24.9 points per game, tops in all of Hampton Roads. He was scoreless in the first quarter and went to halftime with just two points, with NR leading 29-22.

Ribeiro finished with 17 points, and many of them came with his team trailing by double-digits.

A 12-1 run midway through the third quarter by the Warriors pushed the lead to 13. From there, Nansemond River never allowed Western Branch to get any closer than seven.

Nansemond River also had a distinct advantage in the paint with senior center Daniel Wallace, who chipped in nine points and eight rebounds. Junior wing Scott Spencer used his athleticism to notch a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

“The game-plan on offense was pretty simple. When you’ve got a guy 6 feet 8 inches — pretty much against anybody you should be able to get the ball inside,” Young said.

“Defensively, one of our goals is to keep opponents under 50, and I felt we might be able to keep them under 45. Last year, we played three very good quarters against them, screwed up the last quarter and lost. Over there, we played three quarters of horrendous basketball, went in the fourth quarter down like 11 and somehow ended up winning. If we can ever play four good quarters against Western Branch, I’d like to see what the outcome would be.”

There’s no downtime for the Warriors in what is perhaps their busiest and most trying week of the regular season. Tonight, they travel to Deep Creek to take on the 7-3 Hornets, and then they play in Saturday’s Sixth Annual VirginiaPreps.com Classic at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach against Christchurch, which features University of Florida signee and five-star recruit Devin Robinson.

“It’s a big week of three games against winning squads, athletes and couple on the road. Test one has been passed, and we’ve got two more to go,” said an exhausted Young. “Sunday I’m going to rest and go to church, probably go to church twice.”