By Chuck Ballaro, Sun Correspondent
PUNTA GORDA — New Charlotte High School girls basketball coach Matt Stephenson has made nearly every moment he’s been on the job a learning experience, both for himself and his players.
One of the lessons he taught on Tuesday; to play hard no matter who the opponent is.
That can be difficult when your opponent represents little more than a squash match, but play hard the Tarpons did, and it resulted in a 71-12 laugher over winless Ida Baker in a District 7A-10 matchup.
The Tarpons raced out to a 38-2 lead after one quarter and coasted from there. Kelyn Moses scored 11 of her game-high 16 points in the opening quarter, and Alani Qualls scored nine of her 13 points in the first eight minutes.
The second half was played with a running clock as Charlotte (5-2, 3-1) emptied its bench.
Stephenson used the game as a formal practice, going over some new things with the team while further putting his footprint on the team he inherited early in the season.
“There’s a lot of new stuff we’re bringing in and getting the hang of. We’re using this as a teaching point,” Stephenson said. “It’s an adjustment and we don’t want to throw too much at them right now. They’re doing an excellent job at picking up the new stuff.”
Qualls said one of the toughest parts about games like this is staying motivated and focused. Thankfully, she has some help with that with her teammates and Stephenson, who has earned her respect.
“I like the way he coaches. He’s really nice, but he can also be serious when he needs to be,” Qualls said. “He’s very good coach.”
Stephenson didn’t give his players a chance to lose their focus, barking out instructions and coaching as if it was a tie game in the fourth quarter.
Qualls said she used this game as a way to improve herself as a player, finding new ways to get to the basket and score.
“I try to do different moves whenever I play a team like this. I try different stuff, so it gives me different opportunities to try different shots,” Qualls said.
Kylie De La Porte scored six points to lead the Bulldogs (0-7, 0-4).
Kayla Lamb scored 10 for Charlotte while Moses added five assists.
CHARLOTTE 71, IDA BAKER 12
Ida Baker 2 4 2 4 – 12
Charlotte 28 18 13 2 – 71
Ida Baker (12): De La Porte 6, Agel 2, Catania 2, Jones 2. Totals: 6 0-2 12
Charlotte (71): Kelyn Moses 16, Alani Qualls 13, Kayla Lamb 10, M. Moses 8, Burton 7, Bunch 7, Kirkus 4, Underwood 4, Comrie 2. Totals: 28(9) 6-13 71.