Young gains admiration from coaching peers

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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By Matthew Hatfield

Contributing writer

When Nansemond River beat Deep Creek Jan. 31, the Warriors longtime coach Ed Young achieved his 500th career victory, becoming the first in Suffolk to accomplish the milestone. It was just the fourth time in Hampton Roads when it comes to boys basketball and among a select group of less than 25 men in Virginia High School League history.

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What are his coaching peers from the city saying about the achievement?  

“To me, that’s Mount Rushmore, Hall of Fame type of stuff. That’s something that many will dream or think about, but you don’t think you can do.  I would’ve never thought that he could have that quantity wins, plus he’s sustaining the level of play, competition and being persistent. To be able to shake a guy’s hand that has accomplished that, can still probably go another 2-3 years and make it better, it’s phenomenal,” remarked Lakeland head basketball coach Clint Wright, who played at John Yeates in the 1980’s and knows Young for decades, having played against his famed, high-scoring Suffolk High teams.

“I remember playing against Ed because he notoriously slowed the basketball down. Now, Ed’s teams scored a lot of points. But when we played them, it was like an 8-6 half-time score, hit us with a backdoor and made us chase them around,” Wright said. “It was amazing to me how he was able to manage kids of color back then at Suffolk High and be so effective. He was a true, real deal father figure. I’ve never seen players, even up to now at my age, where they reminisce and talk about old times like it was yesterday. He’s always garnered that respect.”

Young managed to be successful over five different decades at four different schools, enjoying more than half of those 500 victories in the city of Suffolk to cement his legacy. 

“His silhouette remains the same. His demeanor and look has not really changed. Back then, we were enemies on the basketball court. But off the court, it was always an interaction,” Wright added.

“He’s coached my nephew in Nick Wright. He’s coached against my sons in Derek and little Clint. There’s video where I’ve seen little Clint shoot a 3, Ed would throw his hands up, and the crazy thing is every time we’d go to a football game and see Ed, he’d always joke with little Clint, ‘Hey, get your dad to send you over here.’ There was never any ill will. It couldn’t have happened to a better person.”

Another rival, King’s Fork coach Rick Hite, recognized that Young was not an ordinary sideline boss. 

“Even before I got to Suffolk, I knew who Ed Young was.  It’s hard to win at the High School level, and to win that many over that period of time, it says you deserve to take a bow. The way he does it, you have to bring it every night,” remarked Hite, who admired Young’s coaching from afar when he was at Petersburg. “It’s super competitive here in Suffolk and I’ve enjoyed the competition with him. At the end of the day, it’s a ton of respect for what he’s done and how he’s done it,” 

“The consistency is incredible. Whether he has top five talent or bottom five talent, he approaches it the same. I can attest to that because I’ve seen him over the years.  Even when I was in the ‘804’ and watching teams from the ‘757,’ you could tell right away the energy and how hard they play. You also can tell his teams play with a purpose. That draws a lot of respect from me.”

Home win streak rolls on for King’s Fork

Feb. 21, 2019 was the last time the King’s Fork Bulldogs boys basketball team lost a home game when they were beaten by Churchland, 60-52, in the regional semifinals.

It puts their home winning streak at 35 as they gear up for their final Southeastern District home tilt with Lakeland on Feb. 14.

“We really have like a Cameron Indoor Stadium type of feel and excitement,” commented Hite, sensing passion from the fans similar to those that venture to Duke for college games. “Suffolk is a great sports town. They come out and support you, and if they don’t come out to support you, they might want to come out and see you lose. They make it a good basketball show, and we try to help provide that. To have a streak like this, they rally around theirs.  It’s really good to see.”

Boone shining for Lakeland as playoffs approach

Despite just a 5-13 overall record, the Lakeland Cavaliers will be playoff bound in Region 3A. That’s because all 13 schools are eligible for the region tourney that begins Monday, Feb. 20.

While Hopewell, Lafayette and Lake Taylor are slated to get the byes, the Cavs are likely to fall somewhere between the No. 9 seed and the No. 11 seed, beginning the week in the No. 10 slot.

Lakeland’s record would be even better if not for five losses by six points or less.  That includes recent defeats in games where they had leads vs. Western Branch, Indian River, Nansemond River and Grassfield, who nipped the Cavs in overtime Monday, Feb. 6.

“The most frustrating part has been the inconsistencies. Nobody probably plays a complete basketball game, but I think our ability to compete is there and then all of the sudden we flatten out. Physically, we can hang with most of the teams we go against.  It’s been the mental edge where we’ve been losing that battle,” Wright said. “We try to create situations and scenarios in practice so that when the games come, it’s instinctive. It just has not translated to live games. The district prepares us for things to come, so hopefully we can right that mental lapse.”

One of the bright spots on a team that features seven seniors has been the emergence of junior guard Jaylun Boone, who leads Lakeland in scoring at 15.9 points per game and will be a building block for the future.

“Jaylun comes from a very solid foundation with a family structure that’s intact.  It gives him a lot of confidence. He’s a gritty, fearless guy,” Wright stated. “We moved him from jayvee last year and he finished with 16 points in the regional game against Phoebus. He’s also second on the team in blocks as a guard.  Even though he’s small in stature, he plays on the edge and extremely hard all the time.”