Birdsong is still the TCIS tune
Published 9:49 pm Friday, March 11, 2016
It was a different year but the same worthy accolade.
Nansemond-Suffolk Academy senior point guard Harper Birdsong was named the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools girls’ basketball Player of the Year.
Joining Birdsong on the all-conference first team was senior center Caroline Hogg, and junior forward Kelly Hogan made the all-conference second team.
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Birdsong and her teammates were publicly recognized for their awards immediately after having won the conference tournament championship game, a game the Lady Saints lost in 2015.
“It’s a great honor, but at the same time, I was just more focused on winning the tournament because of last year, so that was my main goal this year,” Birdsong said.
NSA coach Kim Aston said she felt Birdsong was definitely deserving of the top player accolade. “I was happy that she was chosen.”
“I felt like all year long, teams were double- and triple-teaming her, and I know that that wasn’t happening to any other player in the conference,” Aston said.
Birdsong began seeing a particularly heightened level of defensive pressure during the Lady Saints’ 2014-15 campaign.
“She was seeing the same type of thing (this season), I just think that she was able to handle it better,” Aston said. Helping Birdsong, too, was the fact that “some of our kids stepped up and improved.”
Across 28 games, Birdsong averaged 20.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, four assists and 1.5 steals.
This was the fourth year she has made the all-conference first team.
After a breakout junior season and continued success as a senior, Hogg earned her second straight first-team honor.
“I think that her all-around game was strong,” Aston said. Voting coaches “knew that if we could get the ball to her that she was going to be able to score in the paint.”
Defensively, Hogg used her 6-foot-4-inch height and long arms effectively, wreaking havoc as a shot-blocker.
“She was just a big presence in the post,” Aston said. “We definitely weren’t as strong a team if she wasn’t on the floor.”
Hogg averaged 12.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.4 blocks across 27 games this season.
Accounting for Hogan’s second-team selection, Aston said it was just her body of work on the floor, particularly down low.
“She’s a workhorse on the glass, she gets usually double-figure (totals of) rebounds night-in and night-out,” the coach said, adding that Hogan even had a couple of games with 20-plus rebounds. “You can’t have that many rebounds without working extremely hard.”
Hogan also stepped up her game this season on offense.