NSA stings in 39-31 win

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

If the basketball court were a classroom, the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy (NSA) girls basketball team would have probably gotten an A- for their 39-31 victory over visiting Northampton (NH) on Wednesday night. The Lady Saints handled the Lady Yellow Jackets with relative ease for the overwhelming majority of the game – but in the span of one minute, everything nearly fell apart.

With 3:33 remaining in the first half, Caroline Parker snuck through the Lady Jacket defense to bounce a layup off the boards, giving NSA a 19-9 advantage. The teams went back and forth for the next few minutes, until NH’s Amanda Custis was fouled with 57 seconds to go.

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She swished both shots for her team’s first one-pointers of the night, and NH went into a full-court press. Surprised, the Lady Saints began tossing the ball away. Kayla Giddens stole an inbounds pass and sent it to a wide-open Shane Simpkins, who swished a three-pointer. Simpkins yanked the ball away from an NSA player and hit a jumper with 27 seconds on the clock, and Custis nailed another bucket as the buzzer sounded, knocking the lead all the way down to 19-18.

&uot;We weren’t setting up our offense at all,&uot; said NSA’s Claire Leonard, who had racked up four points and three assists in the first half. &uot;We really had to start moving our feet on defense.&uot; She swished a pair of free throws to open the second half, but Giddens nailed one of her own to keep the lead at two.

Michelle Boucher scored for NSA, and Ann-Taylor Spain was fouled with 2:46 to go. She hit the first free throw, but missed the second. Boucher pulled down the rebound and sent it back to Spain, who banked home another jumper. Boucher then stole the inbounds pass and scored again, finishing a 65-second, 7-0 run.

Giddens hit a three-pointer, and Spain and Parris Grieder neutralized it with three of their own. Latoya Coston and Custis scored four points in 20 seconds to get as close as 31-26, but Lexi Holland, in one of her most aggressive showings of the season, barreled through the NH defense for a layup, and Leonard follow suit with a jumper from the corner for a nine-point advantage.

Custis nailed another three-pointer, and NH went back into a pressing defense. This time, however, Leonard snuck through it and passed to Holland, who scored four points in the remainder to finish the night with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Spain had nine points, and Leonard concluded with eight points, six assists and six steals.

&uot;We pulled it together in the second half,&uot; Holland said. &uot;At first we were all crowded together, and then we started spreading out. I hope we can keep doing that against Walsingham.&uot;

The Lady Saints will host the Lady Trojans at 5:30 p.m. Friday, with their male counterparts following afterward.