King’s Fork girls knock off undefeated Northeastern
Published 5:47 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2023
In the Battle Lines V Showcase Jan. 28, the King’s Fork Lady Bulldogs faced an unbeaten foe in Northeastern, one of the top-ranked teams in the state of North Carolina. The defending Class 4 State Champs from Suffolk represented in a big way on their home floor, steamrolling past the visiting Eagles 89-59.
“We played well. We went up around 15 to 20 in the first half. I wasn’t really thrilled with our defense,” said King’s Fork girls basketball coach Maurice Fofana, who has watched this team routinely score over 80 points in games this season. “They had two kids that can really play. I think we did a pretty good job in the second half of doing what we talked about in our game-plan. I was happy with the way they played from there and accepted the challenge.”
Fofana said it’s been different for him because through his years of coaching he’s been a defensive guy.
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“I have some kids now that can really put the ball in the basket. Sometimes I’m kind of contradicting myself with preaching defense, defense, defense that I’m not worried as much about offense,” he said. “I’m pleased with the results we’ve had to this point. We took some lumps, bumps and bruises early in the season, which was to be expected with a couple kids transferring in and some new faces. It’s a similar team, but it’s also different.”
Senior Niyah Gaston led the way with 31 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Cyriah Griffin added 21 points, 11 assists and six steals. Freshman Zaniyah Williams scored all 18 of her points in the second half to go with six steals.
Those three have been catalysts for the Lady Bulldogs, now 12-5 overall. Griffin has been a major part of their success, posting three triple-doubles in the month of January alone.
“They’re moving the ball well and it’s an unselfish group,” Fofana said. “Niyah can shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor. Zaniyah is a do-it-all kid. Then when you have a point guard like Cyriah Griffin, you can step back and let her run the show for you.”
“She makes great decisions, good passes cross-court and opposite side. It’s hard sometimes to trap her,” he said. “You can’t focus on just one player because we have so many kids that can score the ball. Cyriah had 34 one night, Zaniyah had 32 and then Niyah comes back with 31. I like the way we’re sharing the ball.”
As lethal as they are offensively, Fofana still wants to be able to buckle down defensively when the playoffs roll around to be in position to repeat as State Champs.
“I still fuss about defense and would like to tighten up on that side because I’m not one of those coaches that wants to get in a shoot-out,” he said. “However, when you’re scoring in the 80’s, 90’s and even to 100 points on some nights, it’s hard to hold those kids back.”
Warriors focus on playoffs as Young approaches milestone
Coach Ed Young is closing in on his 500th career win as the month of January comes to a close. Yet, at 11-5 overall, the Warriors have a bigger priority — making sure they can qualify for the Region 5B Tournament that figures to be one of the more competitive fields in the entire state.
“The 500 is nice, but it really has not been in the forefront of anybody’s mind, let alone mind because we’re just trying to win every game to get in the playoffs. The region is so strong that you can’t afford losses and they’re only taking six teams,” said Young, playing with a cast of quite a few new characters. “Coming into the season, we had lost seven people, including four starters. It’s a very young team and not a very big team. I thought if things go our way, we could be right around .500.”
The key has been point guard Jalen Duckett, who mainly was a sixth man off the bench a season ago and is adapting to a starting role with considerable success, averaging 12.6 points per game and 4.7 assists per game.
“Jalen became our point guard out of necessity and has done an exceptional job. Not only has he been our point guard playmaker, he’s our third leading scorer, plus 40% from three-point land and has deep range,” Young pointed out.
Two others playing integral roles are senior forward Chris Hayes (16.4 points per game) and sophomore shooting guard Devin Gaines (15.3 points per game).
Tight defeats to Grassfield 89-86 Friday, Jan. 27 and to Great Bridge 71-69 Friday, Jan, 20 won’t discourage them from trying to finish out the regular season strong.
“Of the losses we’ve had in January, we’ve been in every game and had leads in each except the one to Grassfield. So in some ways when you start looking at it, we should probably be better than 11-5,” Young said. “We are battling, though. We have to stay true to our style of play and who we are. A lot of those teams that we could run into the playoffs – Menchville, Woodside and Kecoughtan – are big and fast.”
- The King’s Fork boys followed up a 72-48 victory over Indian River Friday, Jan. 27 by beating Northeastern (North Carolina) 68-46 in the nightcap of the Battle Lines V Showcase. Adarius Boston led the way with 21 points and nine rebounds
- The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy boys tip-off the 14th annual VirginiaPreps.com Basketball Classic at Virginia Wesleyan at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 against Kellam High of Virginia Beach. This marks the first of seven games the entire day, featuring many of the top teams from around Hampton Roads and the entire state of Virginia in action.