By Gary Brown, Sun Correspondent
ENGLEWOOD — Lemon Bay High School’s girls basketball team overcame an awful offensive slump in the first quarter and went on to record a 42-39 victory over visiting Imagine School of North Port Thursday night.
The Manta Rays (2-0) trailed Imagine School 6-3 at the end of the first quarter, but outscored the Sharks (2-1) 15-11 in the second period to take an 18-17 halftime advantage.
The game was nip and tuck in the second half. Lemon Bay trailed 39-38 late in the final period. Lauren Maheu sank two free throws to give the hosts a 40-39 lead. After the Sharks missed a shot, junior Franesca Gallucci made two free throws with 10.9 seconds left to give the Manta Rays their final margin. The Sharks missed a final 3-point attempt and time ran out.
“We were kind of slow starting out,” Lemon Bay coach Mike Young said. “We were a little out of our game. Our defense picked us up late in the first quarter and we played well in the second quarter. They (Imagine School) came back well on us and gave us a game.
“We did well rebounding, getting a lot of offensive rebounds but we couldn’t make a lot of shots. We have to work on that.”
The Sharks outscored the Manta Rays 13-8 in the third quarter and led 30-26 going into the final quarter. But the 5-foot-9 Gallucci scored 8 of her 17 points in the final quarter to spark the Manta Rays’ rally. Maheu added 12 points for the winners.
Kayle Cristie led the visitors with 11 points. Karissa Parker added 7 points, but no other Sharks player scored more than 6. Still, They forced the Manta Rays into several turnovers in the third quarter when Imagine School came back.The Manta Rays took advantage of their free throw shots, making 16 0f 24.
“I thought we played very well tonight,” said Imagine School coach Robert Toth. “We were competitive and we did well against a much larger school.”
The Sharks will play at Gateway Tuesday in a 6 p.m. contest. The Manta Rays host Port Charlotte at 7 p.m. tonight in a district 7A-10 game. .
LEMON BAY 42, IMAGINE SCHOOL 39
Imagine 6 11 13 9 — 39
Lemon Bay 3 15 8 16 — 42
Imagine School (39): Kayle Christie 11, Parker 7, Andrade 5, Faulkner 3, Woods 4, Karessa Christie 4, Marra 4, Lawrence 1, Totals 13(3) 10-14, 39.
Lemon Bay (42): Francesca Gallucci 17, Lauren Maheu 12, Nelson 2, Stevens 2, Hansen 6, Carley 3. Totals: 12(2) 16-24, 42.