Warriors defeat Presidents at Classic
By Matthew Hatfield
Coming off what Coach Ed Young deemed a disastrous loss at home to Oscar Smith, the Nansemond River boys’ basketball team recognized the importance of not letting that defeat to a state title contender linger into the next day.
On Saturday, the Warriors were able to bounce back on the winning side, defeating the Wilson Presidents by a count of 62-50 during Session 2 of the 11th Annual VirginiaPreps.com Classic held at Oscar Smith High in Chesapeake.
While Wilson came in below the .500 mark, they had notched wins earlier in the season over Lake Taylor and Norcom — teams that won state titles each of the last two years from around Hampton Roads. That had Young more than a bit concerned with how his team would respond.
“I was a little worried, because our mindset was not the best after the Oscar Smith game and we were in the locker room for probably 20 minutes longer than normal. We made a few changes in the lineup just to shake it up. The first few minutes it didn’t look good, then all of the sudden we caught fire,” Young remarked.
“We’re thankful we got the opportunity to be invited to play in this prestigious event. Neither one of us is setting the world on fire, but we’re both much improved. Even though we’re not at the level of some of the big boys and we both had over 20 turnovers, we’re two teams trying and fighting to get in the playoffs.”
Down six points midway through the opening period, Nansemond River used a 9-0 run to seize command. Though they only led 12-10 going into the second quarter, the deficit soon ballooned for the Presidents, who trailed 31-21 at intermission.
Nansemond River shot 60 percent from the field in both the second and fourth quarters, concluding the contest 24-of-50 (48 percent). Junior forward Justin Fatherly took home Player of the Game honors with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, 6-for-8 at the foul line, plus five rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
“Justin’s an offensive weapon and done a lot of good things. He gets to the hole and has a decent outside shot. He’s improved greatly and wants to be good. Once he learns changing speed and direction, there’s no question in my mind he can drop 22 to 24 points a game. I really think he can be a D-1 talent,” Young said.
Jeremiah Lewis finished just shy of his normal double-double, tallying 16 points and eight rebounds. The undersized senior forward also provided plenty of energy and hustle plays that don’t show up in the stat sheet.
“Jeremiah is a double-double every night and not everybody knows about it. He’s a 4.0 student and not getting nearly the recruiting attention he deserves,” Young said. “I think he would make a very solid Division III player.”
Rayshawn Murray and Jamal Boone combined for nine of the team’s 11 steals. Nansemond River scored 23 points off 21 Wilson turnovers. They also did significant damage in the paint and with their second unit.
The Warriors outscored Wilson 42-26 in the points in the paint category and finished with a 21-4 advantage when it came to bench points.
“We really pride ourselves on our bench guys. You’re not really a bench guy when you get in the game. You’ve got to perform,” Young added. “Jalil Langston, who has been starting, gave us good minutes off the bench. He was really upset with his play the night before. But he had a great attitude and really worked.”
Nansemond River ended the final weekend of January at 10-7 overall, placing them tied for the seventh spot with Hampton as Princess Anne sits just one victory behind.
“We have a chance to move up the ladder. I don’t know how far up the ladder, but they’re only taking eight and we want to get in the playoffs. I think our best basketball is ahead of us. We can be a problem for some people who don’t take us serious. We have enough weapons, and it’s just a matter if they’re all clicking at the same time,” Young said.
“We have shooters, can play defense and even though we’re not overly big, we handle ourselves on the glass. I keep telling our players we just need to win our next game.”