By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Port Charlotte’s boys basketball team has been unstoppable in the nearly two dozen previous games they’ve played at home.
Dating to the 2014-15 season, the Pirates have won each and every home game, with No. 23 coming in a 63-45 District 7A-10 victory against North Fort Myers on Tuesday.
“They’re comfortable playing here, and they enjoy playing here,” Coach Bill Specht said. “It’s just a nice stretch, and we hope to keep it going… We did a better job tonight of controlling the boards, and that’s the key at home. You can’t let team get easy buckets at your place, and I thought we did a good job of that tonight.”
Like in many of the 23 wins, Sean Price was the game’s leading scorer on Tuesday with 15 points. Price also had 10 rebounds, and didn’t play in the fourth quarter, as Port Charlotte (4-0, 2-0 in 7A-10) began the final period with a 55-29 lead, and went to its bench to close things out.
The Red Knights (3-6, 1-2) actually began the game with a brief 7-3 lead in the first quarter, but the Pirates went on a 15-0 run over the next four minutes, grabbing a lead they would not relinquish.
Six points from Shemer Fleurissant in the first quarter were key in that big run. He finished the game with 11 points.
Port Charlotte struck for 22 points in the second quarter mostly behind seven points from Bryce Cleveland and five from Klayton Morris. Cleveland ended his night with 10 points and four rebounds, while Morris had seven points and three assists.
“We have to be a team that trusts everyone,” Specht said. “We have a lot of good basketball players in this locker room. Whether it’s a 10th grader, an 11th grader or a 12th grader, we have to trust everyone. Because when it comes to January and February, you have to have six, seven or eight guys you can trust to put the ball in the basket. The more we can develop that, the better team we’re going to be.
According to Specht, one area which is typically a strong point for North Fort Myers is their ability to get offensive rebounds. Port Charlotte won the rebounding battle on Tuesday, leading them to the win.
The Pirates held the Red Knights to just two offensive rebounds in the first half, while limiting them to a total of 28 boards for the game. Port Charlotte had the slight edge on total rebounds with 34.
“That’s one of their strengths is going after the ball. They’re a physical and athletic team, so I knew that was going to be key,” Specht said. “We did a lot of work since Thursday night about getting out-hustled and out-muscled, and I thought tonight once we got going we did a really good job with that.”
For North Fort Myers, Fa’Najae Gotay had 14 points and five rebounds. Erric Harris had eight points.
The win was also the 399th in the career of Specht. He and the Pirates will go for No. 400 Wednesday night against DeSoto County.
PORT CHARLOTTE 63, NORTH FORT MYERS 45
N. Fort Myers 11 13 5 16 — 45
Port Charlotte 18 22 15 8 — 63
North Fort Myers (45): Fa’Najae Gotay 13, Harris 8, Jordan Thomas 7, Peacock 3, Jo. Alvarez 3, Chisolm 3, Alfonso 3, Wilkins 2, Ja. Alvarez 2, White 1. Totals: 12(5) 16-24 45.
Port Charlotte (63): Sean Price 15, Shemer Fleurissant 11, Bryce Cleveland 10, Morris 7, Romero 6, Johnson 3, Perez-Dunn 3, Perry 2, Gainey 2. Totals: 20(4) 19-26 63.