Pieroni makes all-state teamPublished 12:17am Thursday, April 4, 2013
Jessica Pieroni had thought awards season for basketball was long over, but then the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy junior discovered recently that she had become the first girls’ basketball player in school history to be named to the VISAA all-state first team.
“It’s exciting,” Pieroni said. “It was a huge surprise, so that probably adds on to the excitement when it kind of comes out of left field.”
NSA head coach Kim Aston was responsible for submitting candidates from her team to the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association, but the matter was out of her hands after that point.
“I was really happy, of course, when I saw that she made first team,” Aston said. “You never know with state committees because you have a group of coaches on it, and I’m not there to represent my players, so I guess Laura Stoner from (Hampton Roads Academy) did a good job representing Jessica.”
Pieroni helped lead the Lady Saints to an 18-10 overall record and its first-ever state-level win. Her leadership stemmed from the best offensive numbers of her career. She scored 477 points, averaging 17.0 a game, more than a third of the team’s average of 48.9 a game. She shot 48 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free throw line and grabbed 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals a game.
Aston said that during her playing days at Nansemond-Suffolk, the Lady Saints played “in the fall, and so we weren’t eligible for state tournaments. And then it switched over around 2001, 2002… And so, since then, kids could have made all-state. So, I guess, in (11) years, this is the first one to make first team all-state, so that’s a big honor for her.”
Aston has submitted an application to help represent the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools on the state coach’s committee, and she shared what she believes are the hallmarks of a worthy all-state player.
“I think they need to have an area that they really stand out in on the floor, whether it’s defensively or on the offensive end,” Aston said. “And I think that we have enough good teams in the area that they have to be a player that’s of the caliber of going on and playing at the next level.”
She said that Pieroni has become this caliber through hard work and personal sacrifice.
“Jessica’s usually in the gym three or four, probably four or five days a week,” she said. “So, it’s a testament to her work ethic.”
Pieroni has already begun practice for her Amateur Athletic Union basketball team, which begins playing later this month. In addition, she is doing strength and conditioning training two times a week at Speed, Rick Cox’s all-sport training center in Chesapeake.
She shared how the accolades and accomplishments of her junior year impact her as she moves forward.
“It just motivates me, because it sets the bar even higher, and obviously you want to keep on improving, so I want to have a better season, I want the team to have a better season next year and go as far as we can go,” she said.