In the first minute of the basketball game between Northeastern High School and Bishop Sullivan [VA.], Crusader guard Shawn Walker whistled a perfect, no-look pass to a teammate for an easy layup.
The play brought an appreciative murmur through the large crowd at the Vaughn Center on the campus of Elizabeth City State University.
Walker looked very comfortable on the court, as he should.
He spent his formative years tagging after his father, Shawn Walker Sr., who was ECSU head basketball coach from 2002-2014, and is back as the Vikings head coach this season.
"Yes, it felt like being back home tonight," said the young Walker, after his team defeated a competitive Northeastern squad by a final score of 80-56 in the final game of the Robert L.Vaughn Border Clash High School Basketball Invitational Monday.
The Crusader senior contributed 15 points, and ran the offense from his point guard position.
"It was fun to be playing in front of family and peers. I believe I was first on this court when I was about two years old, trying to bounce the ball."
Walker has no trouble dribbling the ball now. He is tall at 6-foot-5, and handles the ball adroitly with both hands.
His size is way above average for the point position, and he uses it to advantage to post up smaller defenders, or to dribble drive to the hoop.
"I would say that I got my basketball "IQ" from my dad, who played point guard for ECSU back in the 90s. I've been trying to work on getting stronger, and my overall game. I have been spending a lot of time working on my shot."
Bishop Sullivan came out hot early, putting up 29 points in the very first quarter.
The experience and size of the Crusaders was evident as 6-foot-9 forward Kenan Servan contributed nine points in the period on the way to a game high 27 points. Down by 16 points to start the second quarter, the young Eagles did not back down.
"We are very athletic and we told our guys to increase our physicality and aggressiveness while maintaining our discipline," said Northeastern coach Ronald Nixon. "We started to turn the tables on them."
Indeed, sparked by two three-pointers each from Aaron Harris and Kamari Braswell, the Eagles chipped away at the lead. A tough drive to the basket and Harris was fouled with the layup good.
The successful foul shot brought Northeastern to within seven points, and they would finish the first half behind 43-34.
The two teams played the third quarter about even. Senior guard Brandon Cline got hot for the Crusaders, tallying nine points in the period, including a three point play at around the four minute mark that pushed the lead to 55-41.
Braswell continued to work hard for Northeastern.
The sophomore had the highlight play for the Eagles, a twisting reverse layup in the lane, as he scored seven points in the quarter, on his way to a team high 16 points in the game.
Jahri Leigh gave a consistent performance, scoring in every quarter to total 12 points.
Bishop Sullivan pulled away in the fourth quarter, working the clock, and converting free throws.
"The effort in the second and third quarters to get back in the game got us tired," said coach Nixon. "This was a very good test for us against a highly ranked team. I'm very proud of the guys, their effort throughout the entire game. We are starting to jell and play better together."
Washington County 48, Deep Creek (Va.) 47: The Panthers (13-0) edged out the Hornets (4-11) in the fifth game of the Border Clash Monday evening.