Mason leads NR honorees

Published 9:15 pm Thursday, March 10, 2016

Key contributors to the Nansemond River High School girls’ basketball team’s success during the 2015-16 season received due recognition when All-PenSouth Conference honors were distributed.

Aneka Yelverton

Aneka Yelverton

Named to the all-conference first team were senior guard/forward Aneka Yelverton, sophomore point guard Briana Autrey and senior center Sabre Clegg. Junior forward/guard Daijah Norris and junior shooting guard Cassidy Simmons received honorable mention.

Lady Warriors coach R. Calvin Mason Sr. was named PenSouth Conference girls’ basketball Co-Coach of the Year, sharing the honor with Bethel High School coach Roy Johnson.

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“I was a little surprised,” Mason said of his receiving the coaching honor, but he noted that “it’s a sign of respect from your peers for what we accomplished this year as a team.”

Nansemond River was co-champion of the conference with Bethel in the regular season and finished the 2015-16 campaign with an 18-8 record after falling in the Region 5A South quarterfinals to Princess Anne High School, the eventual Group 5A state champion.

“I don’t have a chance to be Coach of the Year if we’re not successful,” Mason said.

Briana Autrey

Briana Autrey

Deflecting praise to his staff as he referenced the certificate he was given commemorating his coaching honor, Mason said, “I need to cut the certificate up and give a piece of it to each one of my assistants.”

As for the player honors, Mason was hoping either Norris or Simmons could have made the second team.

“We had the most on first team out of anybody in the conference, so I can’t be but so disappointed,” he said.

This was Yelverton’s third straight year receiving an all-conference first team honor.

Though he still sees room for improvement in Yelverton’s game, Mason made note of her growth and her potency as a scorer in the field but also at the charity stripe.

“She shot a little over 80 percent from the free throw line; she made clutch free throws all year,” Mason said. “I just thought her overall game was a little bit better over the previous year.”

Sabre Clegg

Sabre Clegg

Yelverton averaged 17.7 points, four rebounds and 2.1 assists per game this season.

Last year, Autrey was tied with King’s Fork High School’s Cydney Nichols for the last spot on the all-conference first team. A re-vote placed Autrey on the second team, but this year she clearly made the first-team cut.

“She had a really good year, and I think the sky’s the limit if she continues to develop,” Mason said, noting that coaches probably voted her to the first team because of her overall game.

She averaged 13.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, six steals and 5.2 assists per game, while demonstrating improved outside shooting, consistency and poise, the coach said.

“Athletically, she’s on another level from most girls,” he said. “Her quickness and her speed allow her to do things that a lot of girls can’t do.”

Clegg received an all-conference first team selection for the second consecutive year.

R. Calvin Mason Sr.

R. Calvin Mason Sr.

Mason admitted that it was his opinion, “but she was clearly the best post player in the conference,” he said.

When she was not on the floor, it made the Lady Warriors’ offense work harder to generate points.

“We can play half court a little bit more when she’s on the floor, so she’s a big difference,” the coach said.

Clegg averaged 12.2 points, 10 rebounds and a little over two blocks a game.

Defensively, “I would say she was 100 percent better than she was as a junior,” Mason said, noting that she blocked a lot more shots.