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NSA needs varsity rooks to step up

The most important word Saturday during Nansemond-Suffolk’s boys basketball scrimmage against Western Branch was &uot;go.&uot;

Putting that in some context, it was usually along the lines of, &uot;get going,&uot; &uot;let’s go,&uot; &uot;get the ball out and go,&uot; or &uot;push it up the floor and go.&uot;

In his first season as coach of the Saints, Jason Coulombe had an experienced squad last year with eight seniors.

That meant a good record and a finish in the top half of the TCIS last season, but for Coulombe’s second season, that means a lot of fresh faces on the varsity squad and another season with a lot of teaching.

&uot;The tempo is very different for them,&uot; said Coulombe of nine new varsity players, including five sophomores, &uot;first of all it’s a different level of competition and it’s faster.

Second, tempo is what we hang our hat on, we rely a lot on whatever tempo we decide to play at.&uot;

Western Branch won five of six periods against NSA Saturday as the Saints prepare for their season opener on Wednesday when they host Poquoson.

All four NSA returners were in the starting lineup and Isaac Ballou, Matt Hamlet, Matt Vincent and Ryan Beale are almost assistant coaches with Coulombe, especially early in the season.

&uot;There’s a lot of pressure on our returners, we need them to teach the new guys the way we do things.&uot;

From a stats point of view, much of the scoring will need to come from the four veterans, especially Ballou at power forward and Hamlet at either guard position.

Kyle Jett, Bryan Breedlove and Adam Gillette carried much of the scoring load last season and all three fit well for Coulombe’s fast-paced, usually full-court style.

Ballou and Hamlet got going early for the Saints Saturday.

In the first two periods, Ballou scored 14 points, including a four-point play.

Ballou also gathered five boards and three steals.

Hamlet scored six points and had three assists.

Had their been a halftime, it would have been 34-28 Western Branch.

With only newcomers on the floor for NSA in the third period, and WB going into a halfcourt zone trap, the third period was a struggle for the Saints.

The Bruins were too quick and aggressive for the Saints, and won the period, 17-3.

&uot;Our new guys are having to step up and find some toughness and competitiveness in them that hasn’t really been drawn out of them before,&uot; said Coulombe.

The fourth and fifth periods were more even as NSA’s starters again got most of the playing time.

In the last three periods of the scrimmage, Matt Davies scored eight of his 11 points.

Ballou finished the day with 26 points and eight rebounds.

&uot;We have to find six, seven, eight guys who are tough guys,&uot; said Coulombe, &uot;hopefully it’ll become all 13 guys, but if not, them the toughest guys are the ones who will play.&uot;