This Hamlet’s not a tragedy

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 29, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

&uot;It was my first time playing against (Norfolk Academy),&uot; said Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s Matt Hamlet following the Saints’ 67-61 win over the host Bulldogs on Tuesday night. &uot;I hear it’s a pretty big rivalry.&uot;

And what a debut for Hamlet; the guard scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half and had a game-high eight rebounds.

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If NSA died by the three in their loss to Hampton Roads Academy last Friday, the first half of the clich\u00E9 was true in the early stages Tuesday.

Kyle Jett’s second three-pointer of the first quarter gave NSA a 15-13 lead with 1:16 left.

Hamlet followed with his first of three threes on the night with 22 seconds left, as NSA turned a 13-10 deficit into a 18-13 lead going to the second period.

NSA steadily built the lead throughout the second period.

An Adam Gillette basket in the lane made it 24-17 with roughly 3:30 left.

Back-to-back Brian Breedlove threes from the exact same spot in the left corner took the lead to 32-22 as NA scored in 1’s and 2’s, but NSA kept on hitting the 3’s.

The Saints led 33-24 at the half behind 6-for-12 three-point shooting and 50 percent (13-for-26) overall field goal shooting. Breedlove and Jett led the first half scoring with nine each, while Ryland Gwaltney had five assists.

As a team, NSA recorded 10 assists on their 13 field goals against NA’s half-court trapping zone.

The Bulldogs’ pressure defense caused the Saints all sorts of problems after halftime.

NSA was forced into 15 turnovers in the second half, while the Bulldogs committed only four, allowing NA to stay in it right to the end.

The Saints had their largest lead of the night at 37-26 minutes into the new half before a 13-3 Bulldog run shrunk the advantage down to 40-39.

Another Hamlet three came within the last thirty seconds of the quarter, making the score 43-39 going to the fourth, and taking away some of the NA momentum.

With 7:01 remaining, and a 43-41 score, a missed NSA free throw turned into a break for the Saints. Gillette ripped the rebound from his opponent and turned the miss into a three-point play with the put back and a free throw. So instead of NA having possession down just a bucket, NSA had rebuilt a 46-41 lead.

Another string of NSA turnovers, along with some Bulldog three-point shooting, pulled NA back to within one at 49-48 with roughly six minutes remaining; but NSA would not let NA go any further.

A Gillette jumper on the right baseline, and a Jack Wright rebound tip-in were part of a 9-3 run that solidified NSA’s grasp on the game and the Saints led 58-51 with 3:20 to go.

After a series of clock-killing ball movement, Breedlove found Gillette with a 40-foot pass from near midcourt to under the basket for an easy lay-in to make it 60-53 with 1:48 to go.

From there, Hamlet sealed the win at the free throw line, going 6-for-6 in the final 90 seconds.

NSA’s balanced scoring was led by Gillette’s game-high 19 points, including 13 in the second half. Gillette also had seven boards and two blocks.

Along with Hamlet’s 17 points, Jett and Breedlove also reached double figures with 12 and 11 points respectively.

&uot;I think we came out with a lot of confidence,&uot; said Gillette. &uot;Our coach had us fired up.

We thought we were the better team, but we had to play better.&uot;

The Saints (8-7, 1-1) will continue to need lots of confidence as they travel to ninth-ranked Cape Henry tonight, and then will host fifth-ranked Walsingham next Tuesday.