NSA girls prepare for tourney

Published 10:50 pm Monday, February 25, 2013

The No. 5-seeded Nansemond-Suffolk Academy girls’ basketball team will host No. 12-seeded Isle of Wight Academy in the first round of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association state basketball tournament tonight at 6 p.m.

The Lady Saints (17-9) have not faced Isle of Wight’s Lady Chargers since the 2009-10 season, when they defeated them 47-37, so NSA head coach Kim Aston admitted that her knowledge is limited about this year’s incarnation of the team, which has a record of 16-7, according to MaxPreps.com.

“I know just by looking at MaxPreps that they have one girl that averages about 16 points a game,” she said.

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That girl is sophomore forward Gabriella Hooper, who is averaging 16.2 points per game and 5.9 rebounds, according to MaxPreps.

Everyone on Nansemond-Suffolk’s roster is healthy, and Aston said that’s Monday’s practice went well.

The Lady Saints are seeking their first win at the state level. This is not because the school has lacked strong girls’ teams in the past, but because the state tournament is a relatively recent development for private school girls’ basketball. Also, until recently NSA’s team had been competing at the Division I level before switching to Division II.

Last year, Nansemond-Suffolk advanced to the state tourney, but lost in the first round to St. Anne’s-Belfield, 43-31.

“I think it’s a goal, always, for the kids to make the state tournament,” she said. “To be ranked so high all year long — we actually held the number four ranking most of the season — when we lost to (Hampton Roads Academy), they moved up to four and we fell to fifth. So, that kind of hurt us a little bit, because we would have had a bye in the first round. But, it is what it is.”