By Chuck Ballaro, Sun Correspondent
NORTH FORT MYERS – Eric Harris hit a short jumper with two seconds left to lift the North Fort Myers High School boys basketball team to a 69-67 victory over Lemon Bay on Friday in a District 7A-10 matchup.
The Manta Rays overcame a 15-point deficit in the first half to lead by as many as five in the fourth quarter, but a 10-for-23 performance from the free throw line allowed the Red Knights to crawl back on top in a game that featured nine lead changes and 10 ties.
“They made more foul shots in the fourth quarter than we did. On the road, you can’t spot a team 15 points. I’m proud of my guys. We haven’t been in many games like this,” Lemon Bay coach Sean Huber said. “There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this.”
But North Fort Myers (7-11, 4-5) wasn’t that great from the line either, and Lemon Bay was able to tie the game with 11 seconds left on a Hayden Wolff put-in off a rebound to tie the game at 67, setting up the winning sequence.
“It’s a play my father brought up over at Cape Coral High School when he coached there. I remembered him doing that with me and I brought it out, the kids understood it, and we executed,” North coach Mack Mitchell said.
Joseph Wilkins inbounded at half-court to Harris (16 points), who drove into the paint and used his height to drop a six-footer.
“Coach drew me up a play to get me a bucket. Joe handed off to me and I was able to get to the rack. It was easy really,” Harris said.
The game started fast, too fast for the Manta Rays (12-8, 5-5), who found themselves trailing 37-22 midway through the second quarter before they settled down and used a short run to cut the lead to 37-29 at the half.
Lemon Bay took all the momentum in the third quarter, outscoring North Fort Myers 20-9 on the strength of Jacob Comer’s outside shooting (17 points, with five 3-pointers) and tenacious defense to take a 49-46 lead after three before the game began to see-saw in the fourth.
“We were going way too fast on offense and hurrying. Once we settled down and started to run the floor, we made better passes and better cuts and were more balanced shooting,” Huber said.
Cade Huber took over the Lemon Bay, scoring 12 of his 23 points in the fourth. However, Wilkins and Luis Alfonso made some key baskets down the stretch and Herbert Riggins hit just enough free throws to put the Knights in position to win.
Wilkins led the Red Knights with 17. Riggins scored 12.
NORTH FORT MYERS 69, LEMON BAY 67
Lemon Bay 17 12 20 18 – 67
North Fort Myers 21 16 9 23 – 69
Lemon Bay (67): Cade Huber 23, Jacob Comer 17, Reid 8, Caron 8, Wolff 6, Morrill 2, Wyman 2, Yale 1. Totals: 25(7) 10-23 67.
North Fort Myers (69): Joseph Wilkins 17, Eric Harris 16, Herbert Riggins 12, Alvarez 8, Gotay 6, Peacock 4, Thomas 2, Alfonso 2, Lindsey 2. Totals: 26(6) 11-23 69.