North Stafford overwhelms Warriors

Published 9:20 pm Monday, January 6, 2020

By Matthew Hatfield


The Nansemond River Warriors faced an out-of-district test last Saturday when they opened basketball play for the calendar year 2020. Their opponent, the North Stafford Wolverines out of the Fredericksburg area, came to the Bruin Classic held at Western Branch High School in Chesapeake with a scorer just as dynamic as their own Justin Fatherly.

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North Stafford rode the talents of Javon Swinton, a multi-sport standout signed to play Big Ten football at the Indiana University, to a 63-51 victory over a Warriors team that for the first time this season trailed from start to finish.

“Not sure what hurt us more; our lack of offense as we missed our first seven shots or our lack of focus on the defensive game-plan to make sure their All-State stud Swinton got limited touches and looks at the basket,” longtime Warriors Coach Ed Young said.

“Swinton only had that 3 in the first quarter, but picked up a few assists to their other big kid (Holt) Egan, who had all six of his points in that quarter. The seven points in the quarter was our lowest offensive output in any quarter this season, first under 10 and first time we didn’t jump out to an early lead as we have done in our other games.”

Fatherly, who has been one of the top scorers in all of Hampton Roads at 25.9 points per game coming in, struggled mightily out of the gate. He misfired on his first 10 shots from the field, with his first make coming at the 1:37 mark of the second quarter. By then, the Wolverines had already built a comfortable lead, jumping in front 14-7 after one period and going up 27-11 midway through the second stanza.

Swinton’s three-pointer at the buzzer put Nansemond River down 34-21 at halftime and searching for answers.

“We just couldn’t get on a run offensively, but did pick our intensity up in the third quarter,” Young noted, as his Warriors cut the deficit to single digits when point guard Luke Williamson made three consecutive free-throws to pull them within 40-31. But they were unable to get the lead down to only two possessions.

“The two deep 3’s by [Cole] Marushi off the bench slowed our momentum,” Young added. “We’re just not playing well right now after four straight losses to tough teams. We need to correct our mental mistakes that are leading to physical downfalls we’re having a difficult time recovering from.”

While Swinton was the star of the show with 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, the biggest issue for Nansemond River might have come in the form of rebounding. They were out-rebounded 43-27, compounded by the fact they shot 29.1 percent from the field (16-of-55). In defeat, Fatherly finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The only other Warriors starter to score was Williamson with nine points.

Young is still optimistic his team, now sitting at 3-5 overall, can be a factor for a postseason berth in a very deep Region 5A field.

“We still have two-thirds of the season to go to get in position to claim a playoff spot and I know we can do so,” Young said. “We are a good team that’s not playing to its potential right now and lacking production in key spots. But we’ll get it fixed as I’ll see to that.”

The Warriors play host to Southeastern District counterpart Deep Creek on Tuesday then travel back to Western Branch to play the Bruins on Friday.