Young Lady Saints crusade to TCIS crown

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 8, 2002

At halftime of their TCIS championship game against Catholic on Nov. 2 at Norfolk Collegiate, everything seemed to be going the way of the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy girls junior varsity basketball team. Not only had the Lady Saints brought a 23-15 lead into the locker room (thanks in part to 12 points from freshman Michelle Boucher), but the team had all the motivation a team could have. On Oct. 21, they’d suffered a 40-33 defeat to the Lady Crusaders, who had finished the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record. On Nov. 1, NSA (which had finished the regular season at third place in the conference with a 7-2 record) had gotten a head start to the tournament game when it scored a 29-22 victory over Walsingham, the other team to defeat the Lady Saints during the season.

But coach Jill Van Guilder realized that the game was far from over. She knew that an explosive offense like Catholic’s, which had carried the Lady Crusaders to a come-from-behind win over Norfolk Collegiate on Nov. 1, couldn’t be counted out until the final buzzer blew.

&uot;I told my team that they couldn’t get cocky and feel like the game was already over,&uot; said Van Guilder. &uot;We had to pretend that it was a whole new game.&uot;

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The team, said freshman Ellen Giermak, had been concentrating all afternoon on the task at hand. &uot;We had to close our eyes and visualize winning,&uot; said Giermak. &uot;We were more excited than ever before, because we wanted revenge.&uot;

To combat the Lady Crusaders offense, the Lady Saints employed three different defensive techniques. The first, 1-2-2, brought one NSA player out to the three-point line, while her teammates took over the paint. The second, man-to-man, gave each Lady Saint an individual opponent to match against. The third, 1-3-1, placed a line of Lady Saints in the paint, while one stayed at the three-point line and the other under the basket.

The team’s first strategy was the most effective, said eighth-grader Jenna Robb. &uot;We used the 1-2-2 the most, because it kept Catholic from getting outside and shooting three-pointers,&uot; said Robb.

In the end, everything continued to work for the Lady Saints; they finished off the Lady Crusaders 44-33.

But Boucher wasn’t terribly surprised. &uot;I knew from the first minute that we’d win,&uot; said the forward, who finished the game with a season-high 27 points. &uot;We were playing better as a team than we had all season.&uot;