Alliance squeaks by NSA

Published 8:53 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NSA freshman guard Morgan Wentz looks to drive around the Alliance Christian defense during the Saints’ 49-46 season-opening loss at home on Tuesday night. Wentz and junior forward Steven Minter led the team with 10 points apiece.

Alliance Christian narrowly escaped the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy varsity boys’ basketball team with a 49-46 victory as NSA played host for its season opener.

Last week, after some of the Saints’ tallest players opted not to play this season, the outlook for NSA was murky at best. Even with a taller squad last season, the Saints lost to Alliance Christian 63-56. A blowout loss seemed quite possible this time, but it did not happen.

“Actually, I thought we played very, very well, all things considered,” Saints head coach Randolph Davis said. “Losing the bigs and kind of having to change our style of play with about three days to go, really just getting used to each other, not having a scrimmage — I thought we played pretty well.”

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NSA had a chance to win the game, recovering from a rough start.

“I was particularly proud of the way they fought back,” Davis said. “I would say we got down as much as 15 early in the second quarter and then just finally calmed down and worked our way back. It was only a two-point difference at halftime. We actually went up in the third quarter.”

The Saints found themselves trailing only 47-46 with possession of the ball and eight seconds remaining on the clock, when Davis called a timeout to come up with a plan.

“We set up an inbounds play and had it open, and one of their kids just made a nice play, and got a steal and made a layup, and then that was the difference,” he said.

Some of the team’s remaining height helped contribute, including 6-foot-4 junior forward Steven Minter who had 10 points, six rebounds, and a blocked shot, while 6-foot-3 junior forward John Hogan also had nine points, three rebounds, and a block.

Freshman guard Morgan Wentz tied Minter for the team lead with 10 points, and he had four rebounds and a steal.

“In the second quarter, when we really clawed our way back into it, I think they kind of believed a little bit,” Davis said. “So, now, it’s just a matter of building on that belief and getting ready over the next several games.”

NSA (0-1, 0-0) will play at home again on Friday against Tidewater Academy.