NRHS gets best of both worlds

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Nansemond River High School’s girls’ basketball team was able to get valuable experience on and off the court during its recent trip to South Carolina.

The Lady Warriors traveled to South Carolina to participate in the Carolina Invitational last week. They played three games against some of the top competition from South Carolina and Georgia. In those three games, the Lady Warriors went 1-2, finishing in fourth place.

After defeating Sandy Creek High School in their first game, Nansemond River moved on to play Goose Creek High School. The Lady Warriors lost that game 62-49. GCHS is a team from South Carolina, so the tournament was essentially held on their home floor. Though NRHS was able to compete well, the home-court advantage worked in the Goose Creek’s favor.

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Stephenson High School was the last opponent for the Lady Warriors, with the winner of the game taking third place in the tournament. Despite a strong effort throughout the game, Nansemond River fell 64-54, taking fourth place overall.

“We lost to two good teams,” coach R. Calvin Mason Sr. said. “Both situations weren’t ideal, but I liked the way the girls competed.”

The free throw disparity in the last two games was rather large. Against Goose Creek, the Lady Warriors shot 17 free throws to Goose Creek’s 39. In the following game, the Nansemond River shot 19 free throws to Stephenson’s 49.

“I was proud of the composure the girls were able to show throughout some difficult situations,” Mason said. “They never backed down or gave up. They never complained. I think that’s very important. We learned a lot about ourselves and a lot about what it takes to win at a high level.”

That composure helped Nansemond River win the tournament’s sportsmanship award. Lady Warrior Briana Autrey was also named to the All-Tournament team.

“This was all a pretty good experience for us,” Autrey said. “We were introduced to a lot of new competition that were actually good, and we needed that.”

While in South Carolina, Mason and his team had a chance to visit Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where nine people were killed in a mass shooting during the summer of 2015. During the trip to the church, Mason and the girls took the time to reflect.

“That trip was very moving,” Mason said. “I felt that it was something that we needed to see to understand the difficulties we all face in life. I want them to have a great basketball experience, but I also want them to grow and see different aspects of life. It’s really important to them and me.”

Mason said he sees his role as not simply that of a basketball coach.

“I want to teach them basketball but also teach them things about life they may not get to see sometimes,” Mason said. “We want to be known as more than just a good basketball program. We want to branch outside of the program, and that’s what we look forward to.”