Saints fight, but fall to No. 5 Roanoke Catholic

Published 10:35 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In a style which goes well with March, Nansemond-Suffolk, the lowest seed in the Virginia Independent Schools, Division II, State Tournament, put up a good fight at No. 5-seed Roanoke Catholic on Tuesday night. The Celtics held off a couple Saint runs during the second half and advanced to the quarterfinals, 80-67.

NSA, with a roster down to eight players because of injuries to six players throughout the course of the season, the latest being to senior forward Vincent Hochstrasser, got double-figure scoring from four players.

Senior Isaac Ballou, whose career ends as the all-time leading scorer in school history, led NSA’s efforts to get back into the game after NSA trailed by 14 points at halftime.


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Ballou scored seven straight points to finish the third quarter, bringing NSA within 55-44. The Saints (11-14) pulled within eight a few times during the fourth period, the latest being a 61-53 Celtic lead with 3:56 remaining.

Ballou scored 17 of his 23 points after halftime and added 14 rebounds and five blocks. Two of NSA’s underclassmen, sophomore guard Harrison Spalding and freshman wing Breon Willie, added 11 points each.

With the short roster, Willie played long minutes after being only a shooting specialist through most games this season. The experience of a state tournament game, even just one, is something NSA head coach Franklin Chatman thinks wraps up this season with promise going forward.

“The season could’ve been better, but this is the first time in 11 years we’ve made the state tournament,” said Chatman.

“The kids gave it their all. That’s all you can ask. We competed tonight and we were right there with them for a few minutes.

“Hopefully this is something we’ll gain from. Hopefully the kids saw some of the differences from the regular season to a postseason game. It’s a good thing because most of the guys played tonight, so that’s a positive as well.”

Junior point guard Clarence Turpin and the three-point shooting of Stephen Allman paced the Celtics early. Turpin had 12 points by halftime and led a fast-paced Roanoke Catholic attack. Allman, despite missing most of the half with two fouls, hit three three-pointers on his way to 18 points on the night.

An 11-0 RC run to end the half wiped out good play by NSA for most of the half and equaled a 40-26 halftime margin.

Just prior to the Celtic run, three-pointers by Jim Hassell, a fast-break lay-in by Spalding and a three-pointer by Hunt Odom had sparked NSA to within 29-26.

Late in the third, NSA had still made due largely without Ballou. Ballou scored twice in the lane, then with 3.6 seconds left, received an inbounds pass 70 feet from the hoop, drove to the three-point arc and hit a leaning trey at the horn.

The Saints showed their biggest jolt of energy of the night after Ballou’s buzzer beater. A trapping defense caused problems for Roanoke Catholic for a few minutes and NSA was within 55-47, then 59-51, and still 61-53. Eventually, Turpin dissected NSA’s defense on a couple key possessions and the Celtics took their lead out to 72-55 as the clock moved under two minutes to play.

Forward Jamar Brown was RC’s main force in the lane, recording 18 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks. Turpin finished with 15 points and seven assists.

For NSA, Odom added 10 points and eight rebounds. Hassell finished with nine points and six assists. The Saints shot 8 of 26 from three-point range and 15 of 18 at the foul line.

“I want to thank NSA, the administration and the students, for their support. They really supported us this year. Our home games were crazy and we appreciate the students.”