Coach’s debut successful with Saints

Published 10:09 pm Thursday, December 4, 2008

With a 13-0 run in the first period, then a 14-0 streak coming out of halftime, Nansemond-Suffolk ran past visiting Windsor 70-40 on Wednesday, opening the boys basketball season for NSA and the tenure of head coach Franklin Chatman with the Saints.

With Chatman taking over, there were noticeable differences for the Saints in their season-opener. First, the Saints utilized multiple defenses, including long stretches of alternating man-to-man and zone full-court pressure, against the Dukes. NSA’s defensive play forced 26 Windsor turnovers, with 20 coming from NSA steals.

Quick ball movement was the Saints’ strength on the offensive end. Of NSA’s 28 field goals on the night, the Saints totaled 19 assists.

Email newsletter signup

There was one clear similarity between the NSA squad under new leadership and Saint teams of the past three seasons — Isaac Ballou.

The 6-foot-2 senior was an all-around standout Wednesday night. Ballou finished the contest with 32 points, six steals, four blocks, four rebounds and four assists. Ballou dominated during the big third period which turned the game into a rout.

With NSA holding a 32-18 lead at halftime, the Saints scored four quick baskets in the first 1:34 of the new half. The first three were lay-ups or short jumpers after Windsor turnovers, then off another intercepted Windsor pass, a 3-on-0 Saint break ended with a two-handed dunk by Ballou.

The run continued until NSA led 46-18 with 4:23 left in the period. NSA wound up with a 26-8 advantage in the third and Ballou scoring 16 points in the quarter.

Earlier in the contest, NSA led 8-6 2:35 into the game, but Chatman called a timeout to quickly remind his team what he was expecting.

“We gave them some easy baskets early on,” said Chatman, “we can’t allow the other team to penetrate like that.”

Following the timeout, the Saints rolled off 13 straight points. Ballou scored eight of the points. A three-pointer by Hunt Odom and a breakaway layup by Harrison Spalding added to the run. The Saints shot 9 of 11 from the floor, mainly since most of the baskets were easy finishes after forcing a Windsor turnover, and led 21-8 after one period.

Spalding, Jim Hassell and eighth-grader Thomas East made up the top supporting cast around Ballou on the night. Spalding and Hassell played tough full-court defense, energizing both big scoring runs. Hassell had nine points and five assists; Spalding finished with six points and seven assists.

East, with a couple minutes of action in the second period, then longer time on the court in the second half, finished with seven points and five rebounds.

Tony Walton led the Dukes with 18 points and five rebounds. Cory Rawls and R.J. Edwards had five points each.

“We just have to get these guys to keep understanding their roles. If that happens, we can compete, and that’s our goal,” said Chatman.

“The kids certainly played hard and that’s all we can ask, is for them to leave it on the floor like they did tonight.”

NSA (1-0) plays at Portsmouth Christian on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.