By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
ARCADIA — When Port Charlotte boys basketball coach Bill Specht began his career, Sean Price Sr. was a key member of the team.
Price Sr., who didn’t require the “senior” suffix 22 years ago, helped Specht earn the first win of his career. More than two decades later, Sean Price Jr. is a key member of the Pirates, and helped Specht pick up career win No. 400 Wednesday night in a 60-40 victory against DeSoto County.
“It’s cool that he’s been able to coach both of us because we’re two different players,” Price Jr. said. “It kind of brings a closer bond for us. After the games he’ll talk to my dad or my family, so it’s pretty cool.”
Specht built up lots of memories with both of the Price’s and plenty more in between, as well as coaching a host of talented players.
He couldn’t choose the best players he’s coached, but threw out names like Price Sr., Leighton Bowie, Chris Irvin and Nixon Blanc. Specht also says its players like Justin Medina, who only averaged one point, but still started every game, who have made his career special.
“I just look back at all the kids I coached, and that’s where the pride is. That’s what has kept me going for 22 years, the kids,” Specht said. “The wins are one thing, but the success you have in reaching these kids and developing their character more than just what they do on the basketball court. So I’m most proud of that.”
As for the highlight of his career, Specht says the seven district championships are what stick out the most. Prior to his arrival as a coach, the Pirates had just one playoff appearance and zero district championships. The most recent district title they won was last season.
The Pirates have 10 playoff appearances under Specht, and he has a career record of 8-10 in the postseason.
Beyond on-the-court experiences, another highlight for Specht was the six years he spent coaching his sons Tyler and Zac.
“That’s something you could never trade for anything,” Specht said. “I wasn’t sure how it would go when it started. My oldest son had to take the brunt of it because I wasn’t good at it back then, but then I learned a little bit more how to deal with the ride home.
“For them to be part of the history and the success of this program means a lot to me because they grew up in the gym.”
In win No. 400 for Specht, Port Charlotte used 42 points in the middle two quarters to jump out to a 52-24 lead.
After sitting out the first five minutes, 26 seconds of the game due to a “coach’s decision”, Price electrified the Pirates. When he entered the game, Port Charlotte trailed 7-5, but they went on a 20-4 run over the next eight minutes, and eventually entered halftime with a 33-15 lead.
Price was extra unselfish in the win, dishing out seven assists and grabbing six rebounds to go with his game-high 14 points. The Pirates had another pair of scorers in double figures, with Brandon Gainey scoring 10 points and adding five rebounds.
Port Charlotte (5-0) newcomer Shawn Campbell also had 11 points in his return to DeSoto County (0-5) against his former team.
“Shawn is really coming on,” Specht said. “He’s getting more and more comfortable with what we do. Shawn brings that toughness we need. I just want him to keep playing hard, and for him to come here against is former school, I think he did pretty well.”
Shemer Fleurissant had nine points and five rebounds, and Bryce Cleveland contributed with eight points.
For DeSoto County, Tyler Vest had a team-best nine points. Elijah Arthur and Arnold Mele each had five points.
PORT CHARLOTTE 60, DESOTO COUNTY 40
Port Charlotte 10 23 19 8 — 60
DeSoto County 7 8 9 16 — 40
Port Charlotte (60): Sean Price 15, Shawn Campbell 11, Brandon Gainey 10, Fleurrisant 9, Cleveland 8, Ingle 5, Johnson 2, Perez-Dunn 1. Totals: 22(7) 7-15 60.
DeSoto County (40): Vest 9, Evans 6, Mele 5, Arthur 5, Hinson 4, Elrod 3, Washington 3, Hillard 2. Totals: 17(4) 2-4 40.