By Chuck Ballaro, Sun Correspondent
NORTH FORT MYERS – Sean Price had a career night on Tuesday and the Port Charlotte High School boys basketball team needed every little bit of it.
Price scored 45 points, two shy of the school-record, as the Pirates recovered from blowing a 19-point lead to score an 82-74 overtime victory over North Fort Myers in a District 7A-10 matchup.
Price carried the team on his back in the fourth quarter and overtime to help Port Charlotte (13-2, 7-2) avoid defeat in The Dungeon for the second straight year, scoring all but one of the Pirates’ points in the fourth and adding seven in overtime to seal the win.
“My defense was lacking, but they needed a leader and I had to step up. I decided I had to take over,” Price said.
Port Charlotte coach Bill Specht said the team’s defense let them down, which has been a problem in recent games.
“We were great in the first quarter. But we haven’t played consistently for the entire game. Defense is supposed to be our strong point and we gave up 26 points in the fourth quarter,” Specht said.
Price said the team got too comfortable once it got out to a huge lead.
“We thought the game was over, but we started slacking on defense and we ended up making it a close game,” Price said. “We’ll go to practice and work on our defense for districts.”
The Pirates lost in double-overtime last season to the Red Knights, but in the beginning, the question wasn’t if Port Charlotte was going to win, but rather how long it would take before it forced a running clock as it took a 21-2 lead early in the second quarter.
But North Fort Myers (6-11, 3-7) got going and treaded water, going into halftime trailing 39-23 before turning the tables on the Pirates with a 10-0 run, highlighted by Fa’Najae Gotay’s 3-pointer that cut the lead to 39-33 early in the third.
The Red Knights chipped away before finally tying the game at 69 on a Jordan Thomas steal and lay-up with 1:14 remaining, and had three chances to potentially win in regulation but couldn’t get over the hump.
It was all Port Charlotte in overtime as North Fort Myers finally ran out of gas and Port Charlotte hit seven of eight from the line in the extra four minutes to pull away.
Shemar Fleurrisant and Brandon Gainey added 11 for Port Charlotte.
Gotay led the Red Knights with 20, while Brandon King scored 18, seven of which came in the fourth quarter, as a young North Fort Myers team couldn’t quite figure out how to win games like this one.
“We found some fire and made plays in transition. We figured out their pace and their guys penetrating the basket,” North Fort Myers coach Mack Mitchell said. “It was the first time going through this for a lot of the guys and the battle beat us.”
PORT CHARLOTTE 82, NORTH FORT MYERS 74 (OT)
Port Charlotte 19 20 11 19 13 – 82
North Fort Myers 2 21 20 26 5 – 74
Port Charlotte (82): Sean Price 45, Shemar Fleurrisant 11, Brandon Gainey 11, Moore 6, Perry 4, Cleveland 3, Romero 2. Totals: 29(6) 18-24 82.
North Fort Myers (74): Fa’Najae Gotay 20, Brandon King 18, Jordan Thomas 12, Wilkins 8, Riggins 7, Harris 5, Peacock 2, Alvarez 2. Totals: 27(7) 13-20 74.