NRHS dominates AAU Warriors

Published 9:17 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2016

By Matthew Hatfield

Special to the News-Herald

There’s a new Amateur Athletic Union boys basketball team on the scene. It’s the Suffolk Warriors.

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With only a year of playing together, the Warriors recently concluded their fourth tournament of the spring, the Xplosion Spring Break Tournament held at Norfolk Collegiate.



The team consists mainly of freshmen and sophomores. Eleven of the 12 players on the team are from Suffolk schools — nine of them from Nansemond River and one each from King’s Fork and Lakeland.

“We started the team to keep the young guys playing together and develop confidence and game experience,” said Suffolk Warriors head coach Craig Frost, who is also an assistant coach for the Nansemond River varsity basketball team during the winter.

“The main goal of this AAU team was to have the guys grow together and build continuity for the fall, while improving individually on weaknesses. It has been a lot of fun thus far seeing the progression in their games in a short span, especially playing some top-level, older competition.”

In district qualifiers, the Suffolk Warriors went 1-2 to open spring play, facing some stiff competition, including matchups against two elite Boo Williams teams that feature several Division I college basketball prospects.

“I was extremely impressed with the attitude and fight the team showed,” Frost stated. “It gave them confidence to play like we have the past two weeks.”

Though the Warriors went 1-2 in the Xplosion Spring Break Tournament, their competitiveness was evident in the two losses — 51-49 to Virginia Beach Elite and 58-52 to The Assault — as well as in their thrilling 60-50 comeback victory over the FCF Ballers.

Against the FCF Ballers, the Warriors trailed 31-9, yet saw 10 different players score in the second half. A pair of 10th graders, Gerard Stringer and Josh Hale, led the way with 12 and 11 points, respectively.



“Gerard has improved his offensive game and is doing a great job of attacking the basket and drawing fouls. Plus, he is an excellent free-throw shooter,” commented Frost, noting Stringer has gone 10-of-12 and 12-of-14 from the foul line this spring.

“Josh Hale and Nate Foster are also controlling the game and getting guys involved.”

Both of Hale’s three-pointers came in the game’s closing minutes, including one that gave them a 47-46 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Frost lauded the play of some other underclassmen who figure to make plenty of noise in the future.

“Pheldarius Payne is a load in the paint, and we play inside-out, because he demands space and is getting better by the dribble,” he said.

Payne and Stringer came away with five rebounds apiece, both playing valuable roles defensively down the stretch alongside the likes of Hale, Foster and speedy ninth-grader Jeremiah Lewis.

Stops and rebounds allowed the offense to flourish.

“The key is the development of ninth grader Rayshawn Murray,” Frost said. “He has led us in scoring two times and is developing an automatic stroke from three. Combine that with the shooting and offensive skill of Vidal Wilkins — we have a lot of options.”

This weekend, the Suffolk Warriors will participate in the Third Annual Rumble-N-Da-Jungle Tournament, held at Western Branch High School.