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December 12, 2012
The Western Branch Bruins pushed their record to 4-1 overall and in the Southeastern District by edging the Lakeland Cavaliers, 65-60 on Tuesday night in Chesapeake.
Three players scored in double-figures for the Bruins, who controlled the backboards all night, out-rebounding Lakeland by seven in the first half and getting to the foul line 25 more times than the Cavaliers.
Western Branch, which moved its record to 4-1 overall and in district play, led by as many as 10 and gave the Cavaliers fits all night long with their transition game, resulting in several lay-ups at the rim.
"I always feel like we have an advantage in transition because we are fairly deep," said Coach Chris Fuhrmann of the Bruins afterwards. "If a game gets in transition, our goal is to make the other team break down first and we feel if we can keep it that way it can happen. We've got some kids who are used to playing in the half-court, so if we get stuck in that environment, the guys should be able to respond to that as well."
Leading the way for Western Branch was 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Nigel Riberio with 22 points, nine rebounds and six steals. Most importantly, Riberio connected on 14-of-15 from the free-throw line, making each of his first 11. The rest of the team went just 12-of-25 at the charity stripe.
"Nigel goes hard all the time, is fast, quick, has all the tools and is still learning the game," Fuhrmann added. "He flat out can go and stepped up at the free-throw line tonight, which was huge because we've kind of struggled the last couple games from the free-throw line after we shot free-throws well the first few games to star the year. When he really wants to get after it, he can."
With last year's top scorer Rashon Woody graduating and moving on to Christopher Newport University, the Bruins have had to count on Riberio as well as seniors Jashad Jamison, Demonte Burns and C.J. Thomas.
Burns proved to be a stabilizer in the third quarter after Lakeland took a brief lead. Burns' numbers weren't overwhelmingly great, finishing with nine points on 3-of-9 shooting, but he made some key plays as he tries to get closer to 100% after foot surgery kept him out of action during the fall.
"He's still trying to get healthy and is just a little bit slow out there," Fuhrmann noted. "He is a senior, has a lot of experience and stepped up to settle things down when things got a little shaky and get us in our offense."
Fresh off a 19-rebound performance in a loss to King's Fork, Jamison was a significant factor in the painted area again. H ended up with another double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds and protected the rim really well with five blocked shots.
"We're not the biggest team in the world," admitted Fuhrmann. "He's got to rebound. If JJ can come and rebound the heck out of the ball every night, that's going to help because it's going to start our transition. Sometimes we rely on him to get the rebounds and we have to get some other guys to rebound. He's definitely been a heck force so far in there this season and we're hoping he can keep it going."
Lakeland would take a brief lead in the third quarter and shot reasonably well from the perimeter, connecting on their first four three-pointers and going 6-for-13 from beyond the arc. However, the Cavs stubbed their toe at the foul line, going just 6-for-15.
To lead the Cavs, guard Sevante Williams had 16 points with three makes from long distance. Freshmen Jaquan Yulee and Deonta Knight scored 12 and 11 points respectively with Yulee yanking down 10 rebounds for a double-double.
In year one under Coach Clint Wright, the Cavs are 4-3 overall and have dropped three in a row.
Expectations have been raised for the Bruins after their first regional appearance in 12 years last season. The team suffered its only loss to date against King's Fork at home last Friday and soon will have key district tilts versus Nansemond River and Great Bridge.
Matthew Hatfield serves as State Basketball Analyst for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and don't forget to listen to him on High School Sports Talk from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1 plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.
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