‘Whatyoutalkinbout, Willis?’

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 13, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Both Nansemond-Suffolk Academy varsity basketball teams arrived at victory over visiting BEACH on Friday evening. However, the Saint teams used extremely &uot;different strokes&uot; to get there.

After the girls charged to a relatively easy 39-23 victory, the boys had to hold off a fierce Breaker squad that erased a 10-point lead in five minutes before five clutch free throws by Willis Taylor, Todd Harrell and Ryland Gwaltney iced a 63-62 victory.

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The boys game was nip-and-tuck for the entire first half, but NSA charged away on a 22-12 run in the third quarter to seemingly have things in hand. Then a 55-45 lead with just over five minutes remaining nearly disappeared, as the Breakers nailed three consecutive three-pointers and a layup to get within 60-56 with 33 seconds to go.

Harrell was fouled, and sank his first free throw. But the Breakers swished another long shot, cutting the lead to 61-59. With 15 seconds to play, it was up to Gwaltney.

&uot;I wanted to keep my team ahead, and I wanted the ball, because I knew I could make the free throws,&uot; he said. He did so by swishing both, rendering a final buzzer-beating three-pointer by the home-schooled squad meaningless.

&uot;We were never nervous,&uot; said Taylor, who led the Saints with 14 points. &uot;We had to slow it down to let the clock run out.&uot; Adam Gillette scored 12 points and yanked down several clutch rebounds, as did Harrell, who scored 10.

The Lady Saints recovered from a tough loss to Peninsula Catholic on Tuesday by controlling their win from the outset with an explosive offense. The shots didn’t fall for NSA for the first four minutes, but Michelle Boucher snuck through the BEACH defense for a layup, and Courtney White hit a breakaway layup to end the quarter ahead 8-5.

Ann-Taylor Spain scored seven of the Saints’ next nine points over the first five minutes of the second quarter, and Lexi Holland completed a 13-0 run. BEACH scored for the only time of the quarter, but Holland and Sarah Bangley dropped in six more points to end the half, and Holland, Spain, and Boucher opened the second half with six more to reach an insurmountable 29-7.

Holland and Spain each had double-doubles, combining for 23 points and 25 rebounds. Claire Leonard fired 10 assists, and White gave herself an extra 16th birthday present with seven steals.

&uot;We needed to play harder than we have been,&uot; Spain said. &uot;I think we were nonchalant about the last game. We did a lot better tonight.&uot; The teams will attempt to continue their good fortune when they host Norfolk Christian, Portsmouth Christian and Greenbrier Christian next week (the Greenbrier game is the Saints’ &uot;Senior Night&uot;).