By Chuck Ballaro, Sun Correspondent
CAPE CORAL — If the Lemon Bay High School boys basketball team shoots the way it did in its season opener against district foe Cape Coral on Monday, it will be a pretty tough out, but they certainly won’t be boring.
Unfortunately for the Manta Rays, the Seahawks shot a little bit better, especially down the stretch. Harwin Francois hit a three-point play with 1:22 remaining to break a tie and lead Cape Coral to an 83-77 shootout win in District 7A-10 play.
The game featured 10 lead changes and six ties, and both teams hit on 11 shots from beyond the arc.
Lemon Bay (0-1, 0-1) overcame a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter thanks to back-to-back threes from Cade Huber and Keegan Wyman, and took a 75-73 lead with 2:47 remaining on Luke Morrill’s lay-up.
Cape responded with buckets from James Gibson and Bryan Markovich to take the lead back before Morrill tied it with two free throws, setting the stage for the ending.
Lemon Bay coach Sean Huber lamented his team’s inability to shut down Cape when it needed to most and the points they left on the floor.
“We couldn’t seem to get a stop when we needed one. They out-rebounded us at least two to one. When Morrill and (Jake) Comer get going, it helps take pressure off the interior post players,” Huber said. “We have to do better getting them the ball in spaces and finish at the rim. We missed a lot of layups.”
Lemon Bay took the lead early as Comer scored 12 of his 17 points in the first quarter, all from three-point range. Foul trouble put him on the bench while Cape twice overcame deficits to take the lead as Francois, who scored a game high 29 points, was able to hit from all spots on the floor.
Morrill, who led Lemon Bay with 21 points, helped carry the Manta Rays to a 40-35 lead at the half before the Seahawks (1-0, 1-0) exploded for 30 points in the third, 13 from Francis and 11 from Brandon Alcide (18 points). Lemon Bay tried frantically to keep up and trailed 65-60 after three, setting up the crazy fourth quarter.
Wyman had 17 and Tyler Caron had 10 for Lemon Bay. Cam’ron Blissett had 13 for Cape.
Cape Coral coach Brandon Sensor said Lemon Bay’s offense did a great job keeping up to stay in the game until his team finally made some stops late.
“Lemon Bay hit some crazy shots. They have three really good shooters and we tightened up on them and wound up on top,” Sensor said. “Brandon and Harwin are expected to have big games. But it was a team effort.”
“We’ve been working on new things defensively and we gave up too many baseline drives which forced us to rotate and collapse,” Huber said. “An offensive rebound and a turnover are the same thing. It gives them the ball. That was the difference.”
CAPE CORAL 83, LEMON BAY 77
Lemon Bay 20 19 21 17 – 77
Cape Coral 19 16 30 18 – 83
Lemon Bay (77): Luke Morrill 21, Keegan Wyman 17, Jake Comer 17, Tyler Caron 10, Huber 8, Bottenfield 2. Totals: 28(11) 10-12 77.
Cape Coral (83): Harwin Francois 29, Brandon Alcide 18, Cam’ron Blissett 13, Gibson 6, Markovich 6, Moreno 4, Hyppolite 3, Alvarez 2, Bennett 2. Totals: 32(11) 8-15 83.