By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte High School girls basketball team has experienced a wave of emotions over the last week.
They put that wave behind them on Monday, defeating rival Port Charlotte 56-14, and helping interim head coach Matt Stephenson to his first career victory.
“Playing a rival in a district game, we had to come out and get a win tonight,” Stephenson said. “I’m excited about coaching this group of girls. It’s an exciting team.”
Stephenson began last week as the freshman boys basketball coach, but stepped in to fill the position vacated by Mike Robishaw just a day after a season-opening victory for the Tarpons.
Robishaw’s sudden resignation from the team he has coached for a decade came as a shock to his players.
“We had no idea,” forward Michelle Bunch said. “It was awful, but we’re moving through it and we’re getting through it, and we’ve made a good adjustment so far. It was hard. He was the only coach I knew here, and he was just really close to us.”
Despite the unexpected shake up of the entire coaching staff, the players are taking everything in stride.
“We had to put our complete trust in him,” guard Kelyn Moses said. “It was kind of hard at first, but it’s going well for us. We just play our game. We knew it wouldn’t change how we play, so we just told everyone ‘it’s basketball, so keep playing.’”
The two seniors say they, along with fellow senior Kayla Lamb, have stepped up to lead the team in his transition. As seniors, they understood their role, and they also recognized the need to accept the new coaching staff moving forward.
The Tarpons rescheduled Thursday’s game, then lost Stephenson’s debut on Saturday, but improved to 2-1 on Monday behind their second win of 40-plus points.
“It’s been crazy,” Stephenson said. “It’s actually gone very smooth. These ladies have handled themselves very well.
“All in all, these girls all have the same goal. We’re trying to put a 17 up on the banner at the school. They want to win a district title. As long as we’re playing as one team, nothing else should matter.”
Moses had a game-high 21 points, and added five rebounds. Lamb followed behind with 12 points and five assists. Bunch picked up eight points in the win.
After hitting her the third of her five 3-pointers, Moses was fouled and completed the four-point play to give her team a 36-12 lead for the first points for the third quarter.
Other leaders for Charlotte included Taylor Kirkus who had a game-high 11 rebounds and added four points, and Alani Qualls, who contributed with four points, three rebounds and two assists.
Charlotte jumped out to a 14-2 lead after the first quarter and held the Pirates (0-3) to just four points combined in the first, third and fourth quarters.
CHARLOTTE 56, PORT CHARLOTTE 14
Charlotte 14 18 20 14 — 56
Port Charlotte 2 10 1 2 — 14
Charlotte (56): Kelyn Moses 21, Kayla Lamb 12, Bunch 8, Kirkus 4, Qualls 4, Buston 3, Comrie 2, M. Moses 2. Totals: 23(6) 6-10 56
Port Charlotte (14): Celia Baermann 11, Dennard 2, Livingston 1. Totals: 3(1) 7-22 14