By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Wednesday’s girls basketball game between Port Charlotte and North Port was fairly similar to the meeting between the teams a little less than a month ago.
Both games saw the Pirates with an early lead, able to keep it close for a while, but then a career-high in points for a Bobcat eventually led her team to a big win.
This time, it was 17 points in the second half for Alexis Francavilla which propelled North Port to an 80-48 victory.
Francavilla ended the night with a career-best 28 points while adding a game-high 19 rebounds. The Pirates managed to hold the junior in check for most of the first three quarters, as Aryana Hough and Emani Jefferson did the heavy lifting until Francavilla took over.
”I thought we did a good job on her in the first half, and then kind of lost her a little bit,” Port Charlotte coach Kevin Purcell said. “She cleans up a lot of stuff. Good for her. They played us hard, obviously, and beat us good.”
Jefferson, who had a career-high 22 points in the first meeting on Dec. 12, looked like she was going to top that total on Wednesday, scoring seven points in the first quarter. But with those points came three fouls, and she didn’t play for the rest of the half. The freshman ended the night with 12 points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
“We picked it up and we played ball (in the second quarter) and that was good because of how much foul trouble Emani was in,” North Port coach Dale Huffman said. “The others stepped up and did what they needed to do. (Francavilla) had a big night. Aryana is a work horse and she made some layups for us.”
Hough was all over the court with nine points, eight rebounds and four steals in the first half alone. She ended the night with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
It was Hough’s six points early in the second quarter that helped North Port build a 32-26 lead. The Pirates had led for a majority of the game to that point.
“She just has that work ethic,” Huffman said. “She knows she’s not the most talented player on the team, so she knows she has to make it up with her hustle. If I can get all five to play as hard as she does, we can play with any team.”
North Port (8-6) won the second half 43-20 as Port Charlotte (4-11) was able to do its damage early in the game, capitalizing on Bobcats mistakes. Right from the opening tip, a handful of traveling violations halted momentum for the Bobcats.
“We came out all nonchalant because we beat them last time, and were kind of flat,” Huffman said. “We should’ve scored the very first play, but had a travel. Then we get a steal and throw the ball away, and should’ve been up 4-0 right there.”
Ashlyn Henderson and Celia Baermann did the scoring for the Pirates in their strong first half. Henderson had 11 points and three assists in the first half, adding just three more points to close the night. Baermann scored eight of her 10 points in the first half, but also had nine second-half rebounds to finish the game with 14.
Jenae Dennard was one of the few successful Pirates in the second half, scoring 10 of her 15 points in the third quarter. However, Dennard became ill near the end of the third quarter, vomiting while on the floor before going to the bench for the rest of the game.
Other notable performances were nine points from Port Charlotte’s Sariah Dempaire and 10 points for North Port’s Nykevia Blakeney.
NORTH PORT 80, PORT CHARLOTTE 48
North Port 15 21 18 25 — 80
Port Charlotte 15 13 12 8 — 48
North Port (80): Alexis Francavilla 28, Aryana Hough 16, Emani Jefferson 12, Nykevia Blakeney 10, Briana Pelton 6, Kamryn Nazario 6, Jenna Gonzalez 2. Totals: 33(4) 10-21 80.
Port Charlotte (48): Janae Dennard 15, Ashlyn Henderson 14, Celia Baermann 10, Dempaire 9. Totals: 17(1) 13-26 48.