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December 19, 2012
Second place in the Southeastern District was on the line on Tuesday night when the Nansemond River Warriors made the trip to Chesapeake to take on the Western Branch Bruins. The winner move to 6-1 in district play, while the loser would drop to 5-2 in the league, tied for third place with King's Fork and serious damaging hopes of catching Great Bridge for the regular season title.
Down 11 at the half, Nansemond River found itself in major trouble, especially considering they were missing three vital parts of their team in junior center Daniel Wallace (ankle injury), sophomore swingman Scott Spencer (hand injury) and reserve guard William Goodman (flu). They were in jeopardy of dropping a second straight.
Nansemond River weathered the storm and fought through the adversity to claim a 56-51 victory over the Bruins.
"We played horrible in the first half and I didn't know if we could get back in the game. We turned the ball over, weren't rebounding, not committed to any defense that we were playing and we were switching defenses to try to keep them off balance because they've got quickness as well as shooters. I blacked out really," said Nansemond River Head Basketball Coach Ed Young afterwards.
"Much like when we played Great Bridge, my worst fears were realized, except this time I was more alarmed because we weren't committed to either end of the floor. Against Great Bridge, we weren't committed on the offensive end and we rushed things. That led to us losing people defensively because we don't get a chance to play up-tempo pressure, which we're good at, or what I like to call confusion ball."
Coming off an 18-point loss at home against Great Bridge, the Warriors turned to the tandem of 6-foot-5 senior forward Ed Drew and 6-foot-3 junior guard Devon Oakley. Drew delivered with excellent stretches in the first and third quarters, while Oakley finished things off in the fourth period.
"Even though we lost against Great Bridge, we used this game to take everything out on them and we played together as a team," stated Drew, facing one of the Southeastern District's better big men in Jashad Jamison.
Having recorded five double-doubles coming in, Jamison was effective blocking shots with six. But he didn't get in double-figures in points or rebounds, posting four and eight respectively. Drew, however, did as he wound up with 24 points, 12 boards and proved to be a force defensively with seven rejections.
"Jashad's a good player, but if I have to take it to him or anyone 1-on-1, even a shot blocker, I know I have to do that no matter how many blocks a player gets," Drew went on to comment. "I have the post moves to do it, and if I get the ball in the right spot, I feel like I can be successful."
After being scoreless for three quarters of play, Oakley shined in the fourth and final quarter. In seven minutes, Oakley scored all 16 of his points and even made a key steal, one of five on the night, to help the Warriors turn a deficit into a lead.
"I felt like we had to do it as a team, but they kept feeding me the ball, I kept scoring and fortunately everything worked out," said Oakley, one of the Southeastern District's breakout players this year.
Young was pleased to see his team, which starts only two seniors and graduated a bevvy of seniors from last year, show some coming of age on the road in a challenging environment against an improved Bruins squad. He also liked how Drew and Oakley bounced back from lackluster performances just four days earlier.
"It was the worst game of Drew's career Friday and he came back strong. We rode him like crazy and he's absolutely worn out. Ed was outstanding and we needed a step up player to go alongside him, and Devon was tremendous in the fourth quarter," Young added.
"Devon has been one of our workhorse guys offensively and a stat sheet filler. I guess he just wanted to wait until the fourth quarter and he certainly woke up at the right time for us. We did throw out some things in the second half and rolled the dice, but the bottom line was the kids made it all work. You put the games in the kids' hands and they really delivered."
Defensively, the Warriors were able to contain Western Branch's hot outside shooting, which nailed three of their final four from beyond the arc before the half. The Bruins were held to just 16 points in the second half.
"We knew that they're mainly a first half team, so if we tightened up in the second half and get them to turn the ball over we'd have a chance to win," Oakley added.
Senior guard Demonte Burns scored 18 to lead Western Branch followed by 13 points for sophomore guard Nigel Riberio.
Nansemond River heads into Thursday night's final home game before the holidays with a 6-1 overall record. They take on Norview (2-6) in a game that will have special meaning to Young considered he coached at Norview from 1988-94, plus the Head Coach of the Pilots, Jonathan Wilson, is a former player of his.
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 info and updates. To contact Matthew, please e-mail email@example.com, and don't forget to listen to him on the VirginiaPreps.com Hour every Saturday at 11AM on ESPN Radio 94.1 and watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.
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