Kellam edges Lady Saints

Published 7:44 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nansemond-Suffolk forward Sarah Baldwin takes a jumper during Monday evening’s game against visiting Kellam. NSA led 30-23 at halftime before Kellam rallied for a 50-45 win.

Nansemond-Suffolk’s girls basketball team played some of its best basketball of the season Monday and the Lady Saints (4-5) did so against the only Group AAA public school they’ll face this season in the Beach District’s Kellam.

Keeping it going for all four quarters is still the lesson NSA head coach Kim Aston is trying to teach though. After one half of sharp passing, few turnovers and good shooting, the Lady Saints led 30-23 only for Kellam to rally for a 50-45 win.

“We played really well in spurts tonight but the bottom line is we’re a young team and we lost our composure. Even once Kellam took the lead, we still had plenty of opportunities. We just panicked with the ball,” Aston said.

Email newsletter signup

Kellam got out of the blocks quickly for an 11-4 lead. Outside shooting by freshman wing Jessica Pieroni and junior guard Morgan Lokie brought NSA back in a hurry.

A three-pointer for Lokie then Pieroni hitting a baseline jumper off a drive and dish by Lokie brought the Lady Saints within 11-9. Pieroni scored seven points and Lokie made two triples to keep pace with Kellam in the first period as Kellam led 17-15.

The Lady Knights turned up some full-court defense to start the second period. Unlike some other spells this season, the Lady Saints handled the pressing and actually turned it to their advantage for points.

A Pieroni free throw put NSA up 18-17 0:52 into the second. Pieroni drained another baseline jumper. On the next NSA possession, she got the ball on the wing, faked a shot and drove in for a basket.

Macy Mears, another freshman, turned a 15-foot jumper into a three-point play next time down and NSA led 25-19 with 4:34 to go in the half.

The Lady Saints opened the second half just as sharp. Mears pulled up on a drive and made a short jumper, then followed that with a three-pointer. NSA led 35-23 after 1:20 of the third period.

Kellam held the Lady Saints scoreless for the next 7:31 and slowly scraped its way to a 37-35 lead.

“(Kellam) went to a box and one on Jessica (Pieroni) and that took us out of our rhythm. It wasn’t necessarily that they did a great job with (the box and one) but we weren’t confident changing our offense a little and doing something different,” Aston said.

Even with the drought, the Lady Saints were in the game. Lokie hit a three-pointer for a 42-41 NSA lead. A 1-for-2 trip at the line by Mears gave NSA a 45-44 lead.

The Lady Saints worked for three straight stops on the defensive end but couldn’t add to their slim lead. A Kellam steal near midcourt and fast-break lay-up gave the Lady Knights a one-point lead with 1:30 left.

NSA ran a play to get the ball to Pieroni in the paint. Everything worked but for her shot going in and out. Then needing to foul, NSA was slow to foul plus only had two team fouls for the half.

After two Lady Saint fouls, Kellam beat the overaggressive Lady Saints on an inbounds play, with a cut to the hoop and a lay-up with 0:24 left.

Kellam got another steal before NSA could put up a three-point try and two Lady Knight free throws with 0:11 left sealed the result.

Mears finished with 16 points and four assists. Pieroni had 14 points and eight rebounds. Lokie had 11 points and six assists. In the opening half, 10 of NSA’s 12 made field goals came with assists.

NSA travels to face Collegiate of Richmond Friday evening.