By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
NORTH PORT — There are some nights where the final score doesn’t accurately indicate just how competitive a game actually was.
Monday night’s 53-32 win for the North Port High School girls basketball team over Port Charlotte is a great example of one of those games.
The Pirates led 21-19 at halftime, and thanks to some foul trouble in the second half, were outscored 34-11 over the final 16 minutes.
“We played a terrible second quarter,” North Port coach Dale Huffman said. “We came out in the third quarter and the key was we started playing defense. We slowed the game down in the second quarter, and completely played into PC’s hands. Once PC got some confidence going, they were in the ball game and then it was a battle.”
Bobcat freshman Emani Jefferson had the best game of her young season, scoring a career-high 22 points in the win, 15 of which came in the second half.
“The kid is progressing,” Huffman said. “She stills makes some freshman mistakes, but when she scores 22 points, what are you going to say?”
The Pirates (2-7) were victimized by a host of questionable foul calls, which led to three starters fouling out in the second half. The loss of Rachael Livingston, Celia Baermann and Sariah Dempaire was something Port Charlotte couldn’t overcome defensively.
With the depleted Pirates, North Port (4-4) took advantage. Early in the third quarter, the two teams exchanged leads, but when a pair of free throws by Alexis Francavilla gave the Bobcats a 28-27 lead, they never trailed again.
“We got in some foul trouble,” Port Charlotte coach Kevin Purcell said. “That didn’t help, and then we made some silly mistakes. Once it got out of reach, we kind of put our heads down.”
Francavilla and Aryana Hough were also big for North Port in that second-half comeback. Francavilla ended the night with 12 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks. Seven of those rebounds were on the offensive side of things.
For Hough, seven of her 11 points came in the second half, and she finished the game with seven rebounds and six steals.
The Bobcats jumped out to an early 8-0 lead to begin the game, but the Pirates were able to end the first quarter trailing just 12-9. Port Charlotte came out big in the second quarter. Livingston scored all four of her points in that quarter, and the Pirates outscored North Port 12-7 in the second.
NORTH PORT 53, PORT CHARLOTTE 32
Port Charlotte 9 12 6 5 — 32
North Port 12 7 15 19 — 53
Port Charlotte (32): Jenae Dennard 14, Henderson 7, Guerrier 5, Livingston 4, Baermann 2. Totals: 13(1) 5-10 32.
North Port (53): Emani Jefferson 22, Alexis Francavilla 12, Aryana Hough 11, Blakeney 6, Reynolds 2. Totals: 18(0) 17-31 53.