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January 6, 2014

Xtreme Sports Classic Recap

Xtreme Sports Tip-Off Classic - Final Scores:
Nansemond River 65, Woodside 59
Cape Henry 66, St. Frances (MD) 61
St. John's (D.C.) 87, Kecoughtan 72
Fredericksburg Christian 52, Flora MacDonald Academy (NC) 40

Halfway Home for the 11-0 Warriors:
The Nansemond River Warriors are halfway home to an undefeated regular season as the host Suffolk school held on for a 65-59 victory over the red hot Woodside Wolverines in the nightcap of the First Annual Xtreme Sports Tip-Off Classic this past Saturday night.

Up 14 with 5:45 to play, Nansemond River saw its lead shrink to just two with 23.1 seconds remaining. From there, senior guards Jalen Warren and Marvin Branch sealed the deal with four straight free-throws.

With the win, the Warriors, ranked #1 in the state in Group 4A, remain undefeated at 11-0 overall. They were able to overcome eight turnovers in the fourth quarter, five in the last two minutes. Woodside, rated #2 in the state in Group 6A, saw their eight-game winning streak snap, dropping them to 9-3 overall.

"They went on a run, we really didn't handle it well, but fortunately we were able to win by six and hold our composure at the end," remarked Warriors senior guard Devon Oakley, the game's leading scorer with 18 points. "With this event being hosted at our place, we knew we couldn't lose in the main event because it would've been real ugly. We had to protect our house and get this win."

Oakley shot an efficient 7-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-4 from three-point land, to go with his 18 points and six rebounds. His four-point play late in the second quarter was one of the highlight plays in a 16-2 run for Nansemond River to close the first half, taking them from down six to up eight at the break.

"Teamwork," Oakley said the key was. "We started to spread the ball around and I had two great screens set for me that allow me to knock down those 3's. Our big men did what they do always; converting good layups, finishing on good looks down there and we were able to get them the ball."

Four players scored in double-figures for Nansemond River with senior forward Marvin Branch (14Pts.), senior center Daniel Wallace (12Pts.) and junior wing Scott Spencer (12Pts.) joining Oakley. Branch also collected 10 rebounds to record his first double-double of the season, while Spencer and Wallace combined for 15 boards as Nansemond River out-rebounded the Wolverines 46-28 on the evening.

Woodside proved to be a challenging test early on for the Warriors with sophomore standouts Chris Orlina and Devante Carter helping them shoot 61% from the floor through the game's first 12 minutes. Orlina scored six points in the opening quarter with a pair of jams. Operating at the point, Carter tallied 15 points, seven assists and six steals, creating scoring opportunities off his penetration and on the fast-break.

With Branch defending him much of the contest, Orlina was scoreless in the second quarter, and Woodside struggled to get any easy points in the painted area, relying on the three-point shot for nearly half of their points as five different players connected from long distance.

"By far, this was the toughest team we've played. But we may be one of the toughest teams they've played, too," noted Spencer. "I know we came out hot and gave them a run for their money, trading baskets, but they were killing us with transition buckets. Once we figured out what the problem was, we were able to capitalize."

In the third quarter, Nansemond River slowed the tempo down and made it a half-court game, punching the ball inside to Wallace and Branch. Woodside's outside shooting went cold in the final quarter. They made 7-of-18 from beyond the arc prior to the fourth quarter when they shot 1-for-6.

Nansemond River was able to limit Woodside to just two free-throw attempts in the first half, and for the game, the Wolverines shot only 1-for-10 from the charity stripe. Meanwhile, the Warriors were 13-of-20 for the night, icing the game in the closing moments like they've done much of the year. For the season, Nansemond River came in shooting 77% from the foul line in the fourth quarter compared to only 42% in the previous three periods.

A huge week awaits Nansemond River with tilts against Chesapeake schools Western Branch (7-3) on Tuesday and Deep Creek (7-2) on Thursday as well as a date with Christchurch, led by Florida commit and five-star prospect Devin Robinson, in Saturday's Sixth Annual VirginiaPreps.com Classic Presented by Cox Sports at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach.

"Our team chemistry is a lot better than last year," answered Oakley when asked what the difference is in this season's team. "We play well together, hustle a lot more and have a lot of scoring abilities. We do need to play harder defense, talk more on D' and shut opponents down."

*** Postgame Audio with Nansemond River Hoops Coach Ed Young ***

Cape Henry Stays Unbeaten: Nationally-ranked Cape Henry Collegiate remained undefeated as well by beating St. Frances out of Maryland, 66-61 in the Xtreme Sports Tip-Off Classic to push their record to 8-0 overall.

Just like the case was for Nansemond River, the Dolphins had a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter nearly evaporate and get cut to two with 21 seconds to play after Will Robinson split a pair of free-throws for St. Frances. Down three on the game's final possession, St. Frances had the ball stolen by Cape Henry standout Chris Clarke, who passed it up ahead to Great Bridge transfer Marcus Evans, the reigning AAA State Player of the Year, for a slam dunk as time expired for the final margin.

In the game's first three minutes, Cape Henry bolted to a 9-0 lead thanks to Class of 2014 prospect Jimmy Paige. He scored all nine points in the opening stretch, including a pair of three-pointers to put the visitors from Maryland in a hole they never quite dug out of on Saturday night.

"We're used to coming out flat and having to turn it on in the second half. But we knew versus this team we had to come out strong, so I just tried to get us off to a good start," Paige noted.

Paige's start was extra important considering that Clarke, rated a three-star prospect, was under the weather before the game.

"Chris is one of our primary scorers and he was feeling a little dizzy before the game. I knew I definitely had to step up," stated Paige, who ended up with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Even though Clarke felt less than 100%, you wouldn't have known it by the way he played. The MVP of the recent Norfolk Scope Holiday Invitational Basketball Tournament concluded the game with 20 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, plus made 8-of-12 from the foul line and was handed a major task defensively.

Coach Mark Hall gave Clarke the challenge of containing 6-foot-8 senior forward Dwayne Morgan, a player with two-plus inches on him who's also committee to play his College Basketball at UNLV. They held Morgan to pedestrian numbers of eight points on 4-of-9 shooting and five rebounds while he stayed in foul trouble, eventually fouling out in the fourth period.

"Chris is really good defender and we knew he was their main scorer," Paige added. "He did a really good job on him and we wanted to also give extra help on him to keep him in check."

Also giving Cape Henry a lift with 11 points, nine after half-time, was shooting guard Ayron Hutton, a Quinnipiac signee.

For St. Frances in the loss, Joshua Ayemi finished with 17 points and eight rebounds as he controlled the interior. Sophomore guard Daquan Bracey scored 17 points as well.

Things won't get any easier for Cape Henry any time soon. After shooting up in the Top 40 in the national rankings following their convincing win over Maury, the Dolphins know the target on their back is only getting bigger.

"Since we're #1 in the area, every night we try to prove that because we know there are people out there that think we may be overrated," Paige stated. "We try to come into every game with a little chip on our shoulder to show people that we are #1."

The upcoming stretch for Cape Henry can be considered 'Richmond Week,' even though they play two teams from the 804 area code in the 757. Cape Henry will play host to Benedictine, a reigning private school State Champ and longtime power, on Tuesday. On Saturday, the Dolphins take on John Marshall, the AAA State Tournament runner-up a season ago, in Saturday's Sixth Annual VirginiaPreps.com Classic Presented by Cox Sports at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach.

*** Postgame Audio with Cape Henry Hoops Coach Mark Hall ***

Kecoughtan Falls to Loaded St. John's: A last minute fill-in for the Xtreme Sports Tip-Off Classic, the Kecoughtan Warriors had a rather good showing against a loaded St. John's College team out of Washington, D.C. The Warriors led for a chunk of the first half and stayed within striking distance until intermission, when the deficit reached ten and they couldn't get much closer in falling 87-72.

In the first half, Kecoughtan shot 8-of-12 from three-point land, which makes it even more remarkable that they trailed by 10. That's largely because St. John's was on fire from three-point range, too. They 9-of-18 from behind the arc, plus took advantage of seven Kecoughtan turnovers that occurred in the second quarter.

Jumping out to a fantastic start for Kecoughtan was senior wing Brandon Tabb, who scored 18 of his game-high 29 points in the opening quarter. Tabb made 4-of-5 shots from three-point land in the first period and was 11-of-17 from the field, 5-of-9 from deep, on the night. Teammates Will Askew and Marcell Haskett put up respectable numbers to go with him.

Askew scored 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 4-of-7 from three-point range in what was one of the finest outings of his career. Haskett almost posted a double-double with 10 points and eight assists and didn't have an easy assignment, defending Georgetown commit Tre Campbell of St. John's. From the field, Haskett had some struggles, making 5-of-19.

St. John's got contributions from all over with Campbell finishing with 21 points on 9-of-12 to go with five assists. George Washington commit Darian Bryant and Fairleigh Dickinson commit Darian Anderson scored 15 apiece. Sophomore Anthony Cowan, widely regarded as one of the Top 75 recruits in the class of 2016, chipped in 10 points, five assists and three steals.

Other Notes: Fredericksburg Christian under the direction of first-year Head Coach Walt Webb, formerly of Atlantic Shores, defeated Flora MacDonald Academy (NC), 52-40.

Up 6-4 after one quarter of play, the Eagles stretched that advantage to 17 with a 23-point second period. Senior guard Chris Cheatham supplied 20 points with five makes from downtown. Sophomore guard Daryl Myers chipped in 11 points and eight assists.

Shining in the loss for Flora MacDonald was sophomore forward Shaun Kirk, who received an Auburn offer not too long ago. Kirk threw down three impressive dunks on his way to a 14-point, 9-rebound effort.

One of the unfortunate moments from the event came in the Life Center Academy (NJ) vs. Quality Education Academy (NC) matchup. With 3:49 to play and Life Center Academy leading 55-44, a brawl broke out and the game was called. Two players, Malik Ellison and Ibrahima Diallo, were taken away in handcuffs. According to sources, one individual was charged with disorderly conduct.

Following the wild scene, players and coaches from each team came out to center court 15 minutes before tip-off of the next game to issue an apology to the crowd and shook hands.

In the day's opener, Wilson girls out of Portsmouth defeated Salem from Virginia Beach.

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 [email protected], and don't forget to listen to him every Saturday from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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