By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Community Christian had no interest in repeating the result of the last time it played Imagine.
Through the first half, it looked like the Mustangs were easily going to win on Tuesday, but the Sharks’ strong third quarter gave them a lead headed into the fourth.
That’s when Jacob Foster took control of the game, scoring 12 points in the final period, helping the Mustangs to a 44-42 win over the Sharks.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Community Christian coach Kurt Taylor said. “That’s the worst game we’ve played since we played them at their place. Offensively, we didn’t really finish shots. We did play really solid defense the whole game, though.”
Foster made his living at the free throw line in the win, going 12-for-15 from the line, eight of which came in the fourth quarter. He totaled 18 points, and had a ball-hawking five steals.
“We had to rely on our teammates,” Foster said. “Yes, defense is a big part of my game, but my teammates’ tough, on-ball defense is what allows me to get all those steals.”
Imagine was held to just 12 points over the first quarters, but woke up after the break, as Quadir Waters began hitting his shots. Waters had a 12-point third quarter, giving him 21 points in the loss.
During Waters’ hot third quarter, the Sharks went on a 13-2 run over the first six minutes, and taking a 25-18 lead. That was a lead Imagine held for much of the remainder of the game.
“He wasn’t relaxing,” Imagine coach Andre McCloud said. “A lot of the shots he missed were because he was rushing. I told him to just relax, and when he did it was when he started making his shots.”
A Foster lay-up with 55 seconds left in the fourth quarter tied the game at 42, and the Mustangs took the lead for good 48 seconds later.
“We didn’t play together. That’s the bottom line,” McCloud said. “Fouling hurt a lot. We weren’t moving our feet. We want to reach all the time.”
The Sharks committed 13 fouls in the second half, allowing those like Foster to rack up the free throws.
Larry Destine had eight points in the loss for the Sharks, but needed 11. He took an off-the-mark three-pointer as time expired.
Justin Montalbano also had a nice game for Imagine, scoring 11 points, while adding a team-high 10 rebounds.
For the Mustangs, Blake Via had a game-high 11 rebounds, and supported Foster with 13 points.
This was the sixth win over the last seven games for the Mustangs since their 64-60 loss to Imagine on Dec. 12.
COMMUNITY CHRISTIAN 44, IMAGINE 42
Imagine 4 8 17 13 — 42
Community Christian 8 8 7 21 — 44
Imagine (42): Quadir Waters 21, Justin Montalbano 11, Destine 8, Jenkins 2. Totals: 18(0) 6-8 42.
Community Christian (44): Jacob Foster 18, Blake Via 13, Je. Garcia 7, Ja. Garcia 4, Foster 2. Totals: 14(2) 14-18 44.