Norfolk Academy stumps Lady Saints

Published 10:28 pm Saturday, December 24, 2011

Nansemond-Suffolk forward Jessica Pieroni scored 12 points and the Lady Saints tried to rally from a 14-point deficit going to the fourth period, but Norfolk Academy beat NSA 44-38 Thursday evening during NSA’s Girls Basketball Holiday Tournament.

Nansemond-Suffolk rallied in the final minute, but rival Norfolk Academy handed the Lady Saints an 0-2 finish to their NSA Girls Basketball Holiday Tournament with a 44-38 Lady Bulldog win Thursday evening.

With intense defense leading to too many Lady Saint turnovers, Norfolk Academy won each of the first three periods, building a 36-22 lead.

NSA (5-3) showed smooth offense, leading to buckets by Jessica Pieroni and Macy Mears, for a 4-0 lead three minutes into the contest. Nothing about the rest of NSA’s first half went so easily.

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Along with clamping down on Lady Saint open shots, Norfolk Academy’s defense also paid off into Lady Bulldog points in transition.

NA scored two fast-break lay-ups in a quick 6-0 run to gain a 14-7 lead early in the second period. The Lady Bulldogs kept going to a 23-11 halftime lead.

The Lady Saints chipped the lead down to 25-17 before five straight NA points made it 30-17 with just under three minutes to play in the third period.

NSA started the fourth quarter with plenty of fight left. Eighth-grader Harper Birdsong drained back-to-back jumpers to get NSA within 36-28. Morgan Lokie’s rebound and long pass led to a bucket on the break by Pieroni to make it 37-30 NA.

The Lady Bulldogs resumed their tough defense and had a comfortable lead, 43-32, with 1:13 left.

Norfolk Academy cleared its bench, which sparked a timeout by NSA head coach Kim Aston. Aston used her huddle to let her team know she didn’t think the game was over.

With NSA’s full-court pressing caused repeated turnovers and a couple empty NA trips to the foul line, the Lady Saints got within 43-38 after two Pieroni free throws with 0:26 left.

The Lady Bulldog starters returned to the floor at that point. NSA still had a possession to get the lead down to two or three points, but a three-point shot by Birdsong was off the mark.

Birdsong and Pieroni led NSA with 12 points each.

The Lady Saints play StoneBridge on Monday at 2:30 p.m. at Tidewater Academy in the first day of a two-day tourney in Wakefield.