Saints fall in OT, but show improvement

Published 1:48 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Victory seemed within the grasp of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s boys’ basketball team over the weekend in the Tidewater Academy Christmas Tournament championship game, but the host school forced overtime and emerged with a 54-49 win.

“It was a tough loss,” said NSA assistant coach Dick Esleeck. “The good news is we’re getting better. We’ve gotten better.”

The Saints held a 45-42 lead with less than 10 seconds remaining in regulation, an advantage earned through an impressive effort.

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Then, Esleeck said that with about two seconds remaining, one of the Warriors players “hit a desperation three with two of our guys in his face.”

The shot, which proved to be deflating to Nansemond-Suffolk, came six to eight feet behind the three-point line, said Esleeck, who was filling in for head coach Chris Prince, who was out of town.

Tidewater Academy took the lead for most of overtime.

The immediate circumstances added up to a heart-breaking NSA loss, but a look at the broader context of the season revealed the Saints have improved.

Nansemond-Suffolk faced the Warriors to open its 2014-15 season, but that game did not require overtime as the host Saints fell 44-32.

On Saturday, the Saints players “were upset, but they knew they’d played a good game, and they knew they’d played a good game against a good team,” Esleeck said.

NSA finished with a 1-1 record in the tournament, having defeated StoneBridge School on Friday.

The Saints had three representatives on the all-tournament team — senior C.J. Patterson, junior Hunter Brinkley and junior Matthew Shiembob.

On Saturday, Patterson had 18 points, Shiembob had 11, including three three-pointers in the fourth quarter, and Brinkley had nine, all from three-pointers.

Nansemond-Suffolk (3-5) hosts Denbigh Baptist Christian School on Tuesday.