SOUTHERN PINES — It is rare for opposing coaches to agree on much of anything, but following the Nansemond River-Richmond battle they did.
Both thought the Warriors were the fresher team down the stretch as they pulled away from the Raiders for a 73-59 win Thursday night in the opening round of the Holiday in the Pines Tournament. Nansemond River will play Mount Zion at 6 p.m. today in a winner’s bracket contest, while Richmond will face Middle Creek at 2 p.m. in a consolation game.
“That was my fault,” Richmond coach David Laton said. “We got tired. I need to do a better job of subbing in fresh people. Tomorrow we will rectify that and play more people.
“If it looks like someone is getting beat because they are tired, we are going to put someone else in there. We are going to get after it tomorrow.”
Nansemond River coach Ed Young believed going into the game his team would be able to utilize their bench and outlast last year’s Holiday in the Pines champions.
“We knew they didn’t use their bench too much,” Young said. “We normally substitute more than we did today, we cut our rotation.”
One of the reverse players Young called on against the Raiders was Devon Oakley. Usually a starter, Oakley was relegated to the bench for the opening minutes because of an illness as well as missing the practice when the coaching staff installed the gameplan for Richmond.
Despite not being on the court to begin the game, Oakley finished with a game-high 26 points, including 14 in the second half.
“I was surprised they were in a zone,” Oakley said. “We have a lot of good shooters and that opened the lane for me. I have the ability to drive and pull up.”
Nansemond River (8-1) hit four 3-point field goals in the contest, including three in the first half.
“They made some big 3s before halftime,” Laton said. “I thought those really hurt us. We knew 21 (Oakley) was a good player and a good shooter.”
Ed Drew, the Warriors’ leading scorer and rebounder, recorded 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Scott Spencer netted 10.
“That was not a good game for him,” Young said about Drew. “He’s averaging 17 points and 14 rebounds for us.”
Jalen McDonald scored a team-high 17 points for the Raiders (8-2), while Shydamion Ellerbe added 15. Josh Calhoun connected on a 3-pointer from the right wing in the second quarter for his only basket in the contest. It was Calhoun’s first action this season after sitting out the first nine recovering from off-season knee surgery.
In the other tournament contests, Mount Zion edged Middle Creek 61-58 and Southern Lee cruised past Heritage 66-57. The Cavaliers will take on the winner of the Pinecrest-South Lakes game at 8 p.m., while Seahawks will face the loser at 4 p.m.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.