By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
Port Charlotte still has the best record in the area heading into the second half of the season but finds itself sitting in second place in District 7A-10 thanks to its loss to Charlotte on Dec. 19. The Tarpons handed the Pirates their only defeat of the season and held the area’s top scorer, Sean Price, to a season-low 10 points.
It’s been a long break for the Pirates, who have only played one game since that loss. Price and company bounced back right before Christmas with a 61-43 win over Tarpon Springs in the Ryon D. Provencher Shootout at Lemon Bay, a game where Price responded with 17 points. Port Charlotte won’t play again this week until the Battle at the Beach Shootout this Saturday morning at Venice.
It’s been an even lighter workload for the Tarpons, who haven’t played since their win over the Pirates. They’ve certainly needed the time off, considering Mackengie Simon continues to recover from a dislocated elbow and Brian Hundt is now sidelined after taking a hit to the mouth in practice last week.
The team not to be forgotten in District 7A-10, and perhaps even the dark horse to win it, is Lemon Bay. The Manta Rays have won seven of their last nine games and swept both of their games in the Ryon D. Provencher Shootout, defeating LaBelle by 20 and squeaking out a 66-63 win over Lennard.
North Port was plenty busy over the holiday break but it didn’t exactly go as planned. The Bobcats split their two games in the Ryon D. Provencher and then went 1-2 in the Suncoast Holiday Classic at Riverview this past week.
The good news for the Bobcats is that Bryan O’Boyle returned from injury and played in the final four games over break. Ben Via has also started to emerge as a go-to offensive threat for North Port, raising his scoring average to a team-best 10.7 points thanks a 21-point effort against Wiregrass Ranch on Dec. 23. He’s also the only Bobcat averaging double figures.
Season record: 6-4 (5-1 in District 7A-10)
Last two weeks: 1-0
Season record: 9-1 (5-1 in District 7A-10)
Last two weeks: 1-1
Season record: 7-5 (3-4 in District 7A-10)
Last two weeks: 2-1
Season record: 8-5 (2-0 in District 8A-12)
Last two weeks: 2-3
North Port lost two games last week in dramatic fashion at the Suncoast Holiday Tournament at Riverview. Last minute miscues hurt the Bobcats in their two losses as they allowed a game-winning layup with four seconds remaining against Waggener and then followed that up a day later by surrendering a game-tying shot at the buzzer to Booker before falling in overtime. The Bobcats finally came away with a win on the final day of the tournament, thrashing Cardinal Mooney 69-31.
Back in action
North Port Junior Bryan O’Boyle returned to action in the Ryan D. Provencher Shootout after recovering from a compound fracture in his wrist. O’Boyle, who averaged 17 points per game as a sophomore, averaged nine points over those four games.
As if Mackengie Simon’s dislocated elbow wasn’t enough, the Tarpons are now without Brian Hundt after he took a hit to the mouth in practice on Wednesday. Hundt, who is averaging six points per game, will be out until at least Jan. 9 when he goes to see the doctor but could possibly miss more time. Coach Tom Massolio says he hopes to have Simon and his 11.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game back in the next couple of weeks.
Firing behind the line
One of the biggest reasons for Lemon Bay’s recent stretch of seven wins in nine games has been its three-point shooting. The Manta Rays are shooting nearly 50 percent from the field but over 50 percent from beyond the arc. Keegan Wyman and Jake Comer are averaging over 30 points combined per game and can score them all from three-point range. The offense as a whole is putting up nearly 70 points a night.
Player School GP PPG
Sean Price Port Charlotte 10 20.9
Keegan Wyman Lemon Bay 12 16.6
Shemar Fleurissant Port Charlotte 9 14.6
Jake Comer Lemon Bay 12 13.5
Ahmad Johnson Charlotte 10 11.9
Mackengie Simon Charlotte 8 11.6
Ben Via North Port 13 10.7
Tyler Caron Lemon Bay 12 10.1
Zach Babut North Port 13 9.8
Luke Morrill Lemon Bay 12 9.8
Player School GP RPG
Sean Price Port Charlotte 10 10.0
Mackengie Simon Charlotte 8 8.2
Will Batts Charlotte 10 7.8
Brandon Gainey Port Charlotte 10 7.0
Hayden Wolff Lemon Bay 12 6.0
Tyler Caron Lemon Bay 12 5.5
Shemar Fleurissant Port Charlotte 9 5.0
Zach Babut North Port 9 4.7
Bryan O’Boyle North Port 4 4.0
Ben Via North Port 13 4.0