Another high scorer

Published 10:28pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pieroni scores 1,000th point for NSA

The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Lady Saints defeated the host school 48-27 in the championship of the 2013 Steward School Basketball Invitational in Richmond on Saturday, but the biggest moment for NSA came about a minute into the game.

Junior guard Jessica Pieroni pulled up, knocking down a 12-foot shot, and with that, became only the seventh Lady Saint in NSA history to score 1,000 points. The game came a halt to acknowledge the accomplishment.

Nansemond-Suffolk junior guard Jessica Pieroni goes up for the shot on Saturday at The Steward School in Richmond that would yield her 1,000th point as a member of the Lady Saints. (Janine DeMello photo)

“Before we went to the tournament, she needed 18 points, which we thought she might get in the first game, but she ended with 16, so when we played the Steward School, we knew on her first basket she would break it,” NSA head coach Kim Aston said.

Pieroni was actually taken somewhat by surprise.

“I knew it was coming at some point soon, but I didn’t know that was the shot until the buzzer sounded and my teammates congratulated me,” Pieroni said.

Pieroni expressed what the milestone meant to her.

“It’s very exciting, because I put a lot of hard work into it, and I couldn’t have asked for any better coaches or family or teammates to support me, so it was definitely exciting,” she said.

“I presented her with a ball at half court, but we’ll do something at our next home game, but our next home game isn’t until we play Cape Henry on the 31st,” Aston said.

She said a ball would be painted to commemorate the event and then placed in the trophy case at NSA.

Aston is in the unique position of having a connection to all seven of the girls to reach the 1,000-point mark for NSA.

“The first girl that scored a thousand points and held the scoring record at NSA was someone that I had looked up to when I was a player,” Aston said.

The girl was Amy Simpson, scoring four figures in the early 1980s, around the time that Aston was a sixth grader.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy girls' basketball coach Kim Aston celebrates with junior guard Jessica Pieroni while Saturday's game against The Steward School was halted to recognize Pieroni's 1,000th point scored as a varsity player for the Lady Saints. (Janine DeMello photo)

A few years later, Aston herself got up to a thousand, along with her adopted sister and teammate, Elizabeth Lokie, aunt to recently graduated star Morgan Lokie.

“Then all the rest of (the 1,000-point scorers) have, luckily for me, been kids that I have coached,” Aston said.

It was easy for Aston to explain how Pieroni was able to join this select group.

“I can honestly say that she has worked harder than any kid that I’ve coached to improve herself,” Aston said. “Back in the eighth grade, she was a pretty good player, but nothing like she is now. She spent a lot of hours working on her game and working on her shot in particular. And she just is a great shooter.”

“And it helps to have people like Harper (Birdsong) and Macy (Mears) on the team to help her get the ball to score,” she said.

“I’ve been very blessed to be put in a good situation,” Pieroni said.

Aston gave Pieroni special credit for the way she scores her points. She does so with great accuracy and a high degree of difficulty. Most high percentage shooters are posting up next to the basket, but not Pieroni.

“I think she’s shooting around 50 percent from the floor this year, and that’s really, really good considering the majority of Jessica’s shots are jump shots,” she said.

Pieroni led NSA in Saturday’s game with 14 points to go along with five rebounds, five steals and three assists, and she was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Junior forward/guard Kaylor Nash posted 12 points and nine rebounds and was named to the all-tournament team along with Pieroni.

The last NSA girls’ player to reach 1,000 points was Amra Verble in 2001, who was at Saturday’s game to witness Pieroni’s accomplishment.

The Lady Saints (11-3, 0-0) have a brief respite before they go to Williamsburg on Jan. 22 to face Walsingham Academy for the first conference game of the season.

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