Warriors bounce back at home
Published 10:17 pm Thursday, December 12, 2019
By Matthew Hatfield
Coming off a 40-point loss at King’s Fork in their Southeastern District opener, the Nansemond River Warriors boys’ basketball team displayed the sense of urgency needed to bounce back as they look to get back to postseason in 2020, when they faced another Class 5 school in the First Colonial Patriots of Virginia Beach.
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At home, Nansemond River showed glimpses of some of their great teams of old — using a 14-0 run late in the second quarter and another during the third period to overwhelm a First Colonial team off to its best start to a season in 15 years. Hot outside shooting and stifling defense propelled the Warriors to a 75-52 runaway win in front of the home faithful.
“After the loss to King’s Fork and the fact FC was playing well with three straight wins, I was a little apprehensive coming into this game,” acknowledged Warriors Coach Ed Young. “The kids responded well, though, with that early 5-0 lead, and it was a real good defensive effort.”
Spearheading the Nansemond River attack was senior Justin Fatherly, eager along with his teammates to rid themselves of the bad taste in their mouths from the previous outing.
“We definitely felt embarrassed, but we put that game behind us. We came back and wanted them to feel the wrath,” said Fatherly, who scored nine of his team’s first 12 points, including a buzzer-beating, step-back three-pointer to close out the opening quarter. “We shared the ball, ran in transition, played good defense, and it all led to a win.”
Fatherly converted his first four tries from behind the three-point line on his way to finishing with 28 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
“I was feeling it,” Fatherly said. “My teammates were giving me the ball, getting me clean looks and I was knocking down shots.”
Through three contests, Fatherly has put up 92 points, making him a serious threat to capture the area’s scoring title by season’s end. The strong start to his senior year can be attributed to his dedication that began back in the off-season — “working on defense, rebounding, slowing down instead of rushing my shots and finding my rhythm early,” he said.
Plenty was working for the Warriors on this Wednesday night. Besides shooting 47.6-percent from long distance (10-of-21), they were able to get 11 players in the scoring column, committed only eight fouls the whole night and out-rebounded First Colonial 43-32 while limiting the Patriots to 18.8-percent shooting (3-for-16) on their three-point attempts.
“When we play the way we are capable of, we have the ingredients to be a very good team,” Young said. “Our strengths are our work ethic, ability to play real good team ball as evidenced by our 19 assists on the 27 made shots, and great team defense. Plus, we have shooters, but we’ll continue to need more ‘makers’ like the ten 3’s we hit tonight.”
Junior Jakari Joy had 12 points and five assists. Nansemond River’s second unit contributed 24 points, with Cam Pittman sinking a pair of three-pointers, while Myles Bernard had three assists to lead the reserves.
Recognizing the myriad of styles they’ll see throughout the season, the Warriors (2-1 overall) and their coaches have embraced that the 22-game slate will have its share of highs and lows. Young is just hoping for more ups than downs.
“It just takes time with a young team such as we have,” the coach said. “Our schedule is rough with the likes of a Thomas Jefferson out of Richmond, Lakeland, another battle with King’s Fork and either Lakeland again or John Champe before the end of the month in the holiday tournament. Right now we’re still trying to find our consistency level and stay at that level for all four quarters. But we will get there.”