Lady Saints run rampant

Published 10:40 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy sophomore Kaylor Nash races down the court against Sarah-Austen Holzgrefe, a junior from The Steward School, during the Lady Saints’ rout of the Richmond team Tuesday evening. NSA won the game 77-22.

By Tray Mason
Special to the News-Herald

The Nansemond-Suffolk girls basketball team (10-3) cruised to their fifth consecutive win Tuesday against The Steward School. The Lady Saints never trailed throughout the game, winning in dominating fashion, 77-22.

Playing against a second straight non-Tidewater Conference opponent, NSA jumped out to an early 6-0 lead. Jessica Pieroni netted two jump shots from the baseline, followed by a Sarah Baldwin steal and layup, forcing a Lady Spartans timeout.

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But it was just the beginning of a long night for The Steward School. A steal by Kaylor Nash led to an easy fast break bucket at the 2:51 mark in the first quarter, giving the Lady Saints a 15-0 lead.

NSA applied a suffocating, full-court pressure defense from the start, which didn’t allow a Steward School basket until 1:43 remained in the first quarter. Harper Birdsong followed with a layup just 10 seconds after, as if to dismantle any thoughts of the Lady Spartans gaining momentum.

“Our game plan going in was to play full court man until we got a good lead,” NSA head coach Kim Aston said afterwards. “In the half-court, we wanted to keep the ball out of the middle on penetration.”

Leading 23-2 after the first quarter, the Lady Saints were outscored 18-13 in the second. The Steward School went on an 8-2 run to start the quarter, fueled by two baskets from Sarah Cummings. An offensive rebound from Leah Anderson led to a basket and foul, cutting the NSA lead 29-15, with 3:29 remaining in the second quarter. The Lady Saints led 36-20 at the half.

The small run from the Steward School seemingly inspired NSA, as they applied the high-pressure defense that had given them a big lead in the first quarter.

“Defensively, we played much better in the second half,” Aston said. “We do a much better job when the defense creates offense for us.”

Defense was offense for the Lady Saints in the second half. Their intense defense forced many turnovers and on some possessions didn’t allow the Steward School to advance the ball past half court.

This, in turn, led to many easy, uncontested layups on the offensive end of the floor as NSA went on a 16-2 run to begin the third quarter, and a 60-22 lead going into the fourth.

“When we get out and run the floor we create a lot of offense, and that was because of our defense tonight,” said Aston of her team’s fast paced game.

The scoring difference was the biggest for the Lady Saints during their current five-game win streak. The Lady Saints have a break now until Jan. 17, when they travel to Virginia Beach to take on Bishop Sullivan Catholic (4-5).