NR girls advance to conference final

Published 10:57 pm Friday, February 19, 2016

The Nansemond River High School girls’ basketball team defeated host Menchville High School 71-67 on Thursday in the PenSouth Conference tournament semifinals.

“I’ll say more than anything else we persevered,” Lady Warriors coach R. Calvin Mason Sr. said. “We did a really good job for about three and a half quarters, and we unraveled a little bit at the end.”

NR was still up by 10 points with about three and a half minutes left in regulation. But being a running team by nature, the Lady Warriors hurried too much and sent the Lady Monarchs to the line too many times.

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Menchville shot 12 free throws in the fourth quarter.

“They tied the game shooting three free throws,” Mason said. “We fouled a three-point shooter.”

The teams entered overtime with the score 61-61, and Nansemond River used the extra session to regain its form from earlier in the game.

“We did a much better job in overtime of playing within ourselves,” Mason said.

Menchville, benefiting from the home court advantage as hosts of the tournament, started the game strong.

“At one point, we were down 21-8, and we kind of closed the quarter a lot better,” Mason said, noting he encouraged his team in the early stages that home court energy would subside, and then the team executing best would assert itself.

The Lady Monarchs’ lead shrunk to 23-17 by the end of the first quarter, and the Lady Warriors won the second quarter 19-10 to take a 36-33 halftime lead.

“I thought we just did a good job of withstanding that early onslaught, and then we kind of pulled things together,” Mason said.

The teams combined for only 14 points in the third quarter, but Nansemond River won the period to lead 45-38 entering the fourth.

Though Menchville was able to turn things around in the fourth quarter, some Lady Warriors heroes helped NR have the final word in overtime.

The visitors had to play without star sophomore point guard Briana Autrey in the extra session because she fouled out at the end of regulation after having produced 20 points and five steals.

But her teammates stepped up.

“I thought Cassidy Simmons did a great job of running the point,” Mason said.

Simmons, a junior shooting guard who played all 36 minutes of the contest, was also tasked with guarding the PenSouth Conference Player of the Year, Adria Strothers.

“She did an outstanding job,” Mason said of Simmons. “I’ll tell anyone, she’s probably one of the best defensive guards in this area.”

Lady Warriors senior guard/forward Aneka Yelverton ended up with 22 points, seven of which came in overtime.

“She did a really great job of carrying us in the overtime,” Mason said.

NR junior forward/guard Daijah Norris recorded a double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

“When she plays well, we’re a different team,” Mason said.

Senior center Sabre Clegg survived foul trouble to help the Lady Warriors with six points, nine rebounds and five blocks.

No. 2 Nansemond River (18-6) plays No. 1 Bethel High School for the PenSouth Conference tournament championship at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Menchville.

Following this, the Lady Warriors will play in the quarterfinal round of the Region 5A South tournament on Tuesday with the location and time to be determined.