NSA Saints win home opener

Published 10:06 am Saturday, December 4, 2010

Andrew Giermak/Suffolk News-Herald

SUFFOLK—Nansemond-Suffolk’s boys basketball squad found its three-point shooting in the nick of time to pull out a 44-43 comeback win over StoneBridge Thursday night in the Saints’ home opener.

Most of the evening was a huge struggle for NSA to put any points on the board. Fortunately for the Saints, StoneBridge was barely better through the first three quarters and NSA winning the fourth quarter 22-9 was enough to give new head coach Clint Wright his first win.

The Saints jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first 1:30 of play before scoring five points in the remainder of the first half.

StoneBridge edged in front, 6-5, at the 2:27 mark of the first period. Most of the second period stalled at a 10-10 tie before the Cavaliers scored a bucket in the last minute of the half for their only points of the second quarter.

NSA shot 4-for-24 (16.7 percent) from the floor and 1-for-8 from three-point range in the first 16 minutes while StoneBridge was hurt by 11 turnovers.

Kyle Atkins led the Cavaliers with 17 points, with five three-pointers. Some of his shooting led the Cavaliers to a double-digit lead late in the third period and with a relative explosion of 22 points in the quarter StoneBridge led 34-22 going to the fourth.

Making offensive and defensive substitutions throughout the quarter, Wright found combinations that worked for the Saints.

Defensively, the Saints held StoneBridge without a point for a four-minute span after an Atkins triple made it 40-30 as the clock went under five minutes left.

Down the stretch, the Saints wound up with two answers to Atkins. A couple threes by Chris Sharrett early in the fourth kept the Saints within shouting distance and a three by Breon Willie made it 40-36 Cavaliers with 3:21 remaining.

After another defensive hold, Willie hit a jumper from a couple strides beyond the top of the key to bring NSA within a point.

After another StoneBridge turnover, Harrison Spalding was fouled going to the basket. He made both free throws to put NSA ahead with 1:51 left.

A Spalding jumper in the paint put NSA up 43-40. StoneBridge’s Luke Unsworth hit a three from the left corner, making it 43-43 with 0:46 left.

After a timeout, the Saints deployed a four-corner offense and ran 30 seconds off the clock. Spalding drove and passed to Willie in the corner who was fouled on a three-point attempt with six seconds left.

Willie made the middle shot of his three, which was good enough, barely.

StoneBridge’s Jimmy Tabb grabbed the rebound off the third free throw, drove coast to coast and had a contested lay-up roll off the rim at the horn.

Willie led the Saints with 13 points. Sharrett had 11 points and four assists.

Spalding turned into NSA’s point guard in the second half, specializing in driving into the paint to kick a pass out to Willie or Sharrett. He finished with nine points, six rebounds and four assists.

The Saints (1-1) host Windsor Tuesday at 7 p.m.