NA defense stalls Lady Saints

Published 11:06 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2010

NORFOLK – Norfolk Academy completed a regular season sweep over Nansemond-Suffolk Tuesday evening at Norfolk Academy. NA held the Lady Saints to six points in the first half then held off a more-energized effort by NSA in the second half to win 48-29 and get a Tidewater Conference win.

In the first half, NA’s half-court zone trapped the Lady Saints along the sidelines. NA took the Lady Saints out of any offensive rhythm, or, according to NSA head coach Kim Aston, the Lady Saints took themselves out of what they wanted to do.

“We knew exactly what they were going to do,” Aston said.

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“We made no cuts. We had no penetration into the zone. We just stayed on the perimeter with the ball,” Aston said.

Norfolk Academy led 11-2 after a quarter and 23-6 at halftime. Early on, NSA got some good shots, but as the half wore on and more frustration mounted, the Lady Saints wound up committing turnovers before getting shots up. In the second period, NSA had seven field goal attempts and lost 11 turnovers.

After halftime, NSA handled the NA zone defense better. Getting the ball to Grace Saunders at the high post was one good plan. Saunders made a couple baskets early in the third period went on to score all eight of her points in the second half.

The Lady Saints got another boost off the bench from Jessica Pieroni and Sarah Baldwin. Both played with more aggression than what the Lady Saints showed earlier in the game. Pieroni scored after grabbing an offensive rebound and Macy Mears drained a three-pointer to cut NA’s lead to 30-19 in the last minute of the third period.

Instead of NSA chipping into the lead on the last possession or two of the period though, NA’s Naadira Moyston and Krissy Gorsline combined for a four-point play to switch momentum back to the hosts.

Moyston drove to the basket, was fouled and made a lay-up seconds after Mears’ three-pointer. Moyston missed at the line, but Gorsline got the board and scored. NA took the 15-point lead to the fourth quarter. NSA trailed by at least 12 throughout the fourth period.

“We just came out and didn’t execute anything on offense. We were just standing around,” said Aston.

Talk about “being on the bubble” is usually not around in January, but Tuesday’s contest pitted conference rivals and teams “on the bubble” for the Virginia Independent Schools, Div. I state tournament. Twelve schools make the state tourney, as of the state poll released earlier Tuesday, Norfolk Academy is No. 11 in the state and NSA is No. 12.

Gorsline led NA with 11 points. Dani Johnson scored 10 points, including two three-pointers in the second half that were big blows to any NSA momentum.

Saunders had eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks for the Lady Saints. Mears added seven points. NSA’s usual leading scorer, sophomore guard Virginia Hassell, finished with four points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Nansemond-Suffolk (5-7, 0-2) continues with TCIS play Thursday evening at Cape Henry.