NSA girls fall in state final

Published 6:42 pm Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Miller School of Albemarle girls’ basketball team spoiled Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s first appearance in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state title game on Saturday.

The Lady Mavericks used inside muscle and outside precision to rout the Lady Saints 57-25 at St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville.

NSA coach Kim Aston said her team scored the first two baskets of the game, then Miller School began to answer.

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“Their first 10 or 12 points were all in the paint,” she said. “They just were much more physical than we were.”

Lady Mavericks 6-foot junior wing/forward Micah Maloney led her team with 15 points, while senior 6-foot-5-inch center Adrienne Darden added 11 points and nine rebounds.

Miller School’s dominance also spread to the perimeter. It shot 56 percent from the field (24-for-43).

“I don’t think they could have shot much better,” Aston said. “They shot the lights out.”

Once the Lady Mavericks took the lead, “we tried to rush on offense and take quick shots,” Aston said.

Poor offensive rebounding exacerbated the problem.

“It just kind of fed into the frenzy,” Aston said.

Miller School was not actually applying defensive pressure outside of a zone defense.

“We really didn’t have a problem moving the ball, we just took bad shots,” Aston said. “We tried to take the first open look we had, and sometimes not even an open look, forcing it up there.”

The Lady Mavericks took a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and made it into a 31-11 advantage at halftime.

During the intermission, Aston said, she told her team, “We had to come out and play physical and keep them off the glass, limit them to one shot.”

Unfortunately, “the second half is really when they hit the majority of their outside shots,” she said.

Miller School senior point guard Alexis Mallory scored 13 points, and senior guard Lilly Riggleman had 12 points, six boards and two blocks.

The Lady Mavericks ended NSA’s season with a disappointing loss for the second straight year after spoiling its 2013-14 run in the state semifinals.

“I felt like they were pretty much the same team,” said Lady Saints junior point guard Harper Birdsong. “They’re just so good.”

For Nansemond-Suffolk, Birdsong led on offense with 12 points on 33 percent shooting from the field and also had seven rebounds.

After a phenomenal performance in Friday’s state semifinal, sophomore forward Kelly Hogan showed some continued strength inside on Saturday. She finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Junior center Caroline Hogg struggled greatly, making only one shot on the night to go with four rebounds and one block, numbers well below her season averages.

“I really wanted to win the game, but overall, I’m just really proud of the team, because I don’t think anybody expected us to get where we got this year,” Birdsong said.

The Lady Saints finish the 2014-15 season with an overall record of 21-6, a year after losing standouts like Jessica Pieroni, Macy Mears and Kaylor Nash to graduation.

“Based on who we had coming back from last year, I would say that it was a successful season, maybe better than many anticipated,” Aston said. “But when you do have the record that we’ve had this year, and have been successful and then you lose a game like the way we lost this game, obviously it’s not a positive ending to the season. But it was still a great season, all things considered.”