By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PUNTA GORDA — Charlotte stormed back from an early deficit Saturday evening to claim a 59-53 victory against Lemon Bay in a District 7A-10 boys game.
The Tarpons (3-0, 2-0 in 7A-10) managed just seven points in the first quarter to trail by 10 points before recovering.
“There’s no quit,” coach Tom Massolio said. “I don’t know much about this team right now, but I know twice we’ve been down at half time, and we’ve been down by double digits in our last two games, and this team just battles back.”
Spencer Ingle scored eight points and Ahmad Johnson had five points in the third quarter to help Charlotte eventually take the lead. A 3-pointer from Johnson tied the game, and then an Ingle steal and layup gave the Tarpons a 34-32 lead with five minutes remaining in the third.
“He’s been a really nice surprise for us,” Massolio said of Ingle. “We still don’t know what your lineup is going to be, but we have a lot of nice, talented kids, and Spencer has been a blessing so far.”
Charlotte eventually built the margin to eight points in the third. However, Tyler Caron and the Manta Rays were able to cut the deficit to two points, and had a chance to tie the game at 50-50 with two minutes left in the game.
The Manta Rays (0-3, 0-2) were unable to convert on an attempt to get even, and a Johnson dunk with 1:30 left for a 52-48 lead was the dagger Charlotte needed.
Caron had six points in the fourth quarter, ending his night with 13 and 10 rebounds. Five of those rebounds came on the offensive glass.
“He’s a good player and people are starting to realize it,” Coach Sean Huber said of Caron. “No I just need him to realize it. He’s a captain as a junior. His work ethic is outstanding. The guys look to him for leadership. He’s never been leaned on offensively, so that’s new for him.”
The rest of his team only combined for 13 boards, as the Manta Rays were outrebounded 40-23 on the night.
“We were outrebounded and we didn’t take advantage of our foul shots in the first half,” Huber said. “We’re going to be pretty good as soon as everyone locks into the things we need to do to win games.
“Sometimes we go through stretches where we lose focus and you’re not going to win when you do that.”
Mackengie Simon had a double-double with 16 rebounds and 11 points for Charlotte. All of Simon’s points came in the second quarter.
Johnson had 11 points and Ingle nine. Will Batts had seven points and eight rebounds. Cade Huber had a game-high 15 points for Lemon Bay while Keegan Wyman added 12.
CHARLOTTE 59, LEMON BAY 53
Lemon Bay 17 13 8 15 — 53
Charlotte 7 20 19 13 — 59
Lemon Bay (53): Cade Huber 15, Tyler Caron 13, Keegan Wyman 12, Morrill 6, Comer 3, Reid 2, Wolff 2. Totals: 18(7) 10-20 53.
Charlotte (59): Mackengie Simon 11, Ahmad Johnson 11, Ingle 9, Batts 7, Haas 6, Hundt 6, Bokon 5, Lee 4. Totals: 20(2) 17-29 59