Post play prolongs NSA’s post-season

Published 2:33 am Friday, February 21, 2014

Valuable contributions from frontcourt players propelled Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s girls’ basketball team to a 57-33 blowout of Norfolk Academy in Thursday’s conference tournament semifinal at Norfolk Christian High School.

The Saints are set to play Cape Henry for the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools championship today at 4 p.m. at Norfolk Christian High School.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy sophomore center Caroline Hogg stretches past Norfolk Academy's defense on Thursday to help her team advance to the conference tournament championship game.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy sophomore center Caroline Hogg stretches past Norfolk Academy’s defense on Thursday to help her team advance to the conference tournament championship game.

Sophomore center Caroline Hogg, junior forward Caylin Harris and senior guard/forward Kaylor Nash combined for 24 points and had a strong presence both on defense and on the boards.

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Hogg and Harris summed up the significance of the win to this Lady Saints ball club.

“It’s pretty big,” Hogg said. “I know we’ve all been working hard to get to the championship.”

At that point, Harris quietly added, “We’re here.”

NSA head coach Kim Aston affirmed this focus when she said Thursday’s win “gets us to our goal, which is to win a TCIS championship.”

In Tuesday’s tournament quarterfinal, the Lady Saints used a press defense that caused problems for Walsingham Academy’s guards, and NSA orchestrated it again on Thursday, to positive effect.

The Saints held a double-digit lead after the first quarter and led by more than 20 at halftime.

“I was really pleased with our two post players tonight and Kaylor,” Aston said.

Hogg contributed eight points, four rebounds and an impressive seven blocks. She said she came out hyped to play in the first half.

Harris had eight points, seven rebounds and two steals. “I feel like I could just add some aggression and some intensity,” she said of her contribution.

Aston praised Harris for her ability to grab offensive rebounds that created easy buckets. “That helps us immensely,” the coach said.

And Kaylor Nash, who was sidelined in the quarterfinal by illness, returned to make a substantial impact, with eight points, seven rebounds and four steals.

“We’re just more comfortable on the floor with her there,” Aston said. “Defensively, she helps us, and she rebounds the ball well.”

The Lady Saints got some customarily solid contributions from their main offensive threats, as senior guard/forward Jessica Pieroni scored 19 points to go with five boards, and sophomore point guard Harper Birdsong had 14 points, nine assists, five rebounds and two steals.

No. 2 Cape Henry Collegiate School defeated No. 3 Hampton Roads Academy 56-48 in the other semifinal on Thursday, setting up Saturday’s championship game.

NSA (19-2) most recently played Cape Henry on Feb. 7, winning that road game 68-48.

The two teams’ final meeting this season is scheduled for a 4 p.m. tip-off at Norfolk Christian High School.