By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
NORTH PORT — Second verse, not quite the same as the first.
A little over a month after the North Port’s boys basketball team defeated Charlotte by just four points, the Bobcats weren’t leaving things as close this time around, winning 67-46 in a game in which they led from the opening tip.
This game didn’t have any playoff implications, but with two competitive teams who are close in proximity, a win would’ve been a nice confidence boost for either as the season winds down.
“A rivalry with Charlotte, in a win like this on your home court, it feels awesome,” Bobcats coach Ryan Power said.
North Port led by as many 25 points in the fourth quarter, as a trio of Bobcats scored in double figures along the way. Bryan O’Boyle had a game-high 14 points, with Ben Via adding 12 and Gene Oliver contributing 11.
Charlotte turned the ball over 18 times in the loss, with O’Boyle leading the way with four steals. He also had four rebounds and a pair of assists.
“I thought taking care of the ball was a huge difference,” Power said. “We showed patience and really got the shots we practiced all week. We wanted to attack the rim relentlessly and take the open three’s when they were there, but we relied heavily on the paint.”
Slow starts have been an issue for the Tarpons all season, and on back-to-back nights, the first quarter has plagued them. North Port led 17-6 after the first period with the help of an 8-0 run and six points from Via.
That deficit was similar to the first time the two played, where the Bobcats led 17-7. But unlike the last meeting in which Charlotte won the final three quarters by six points, it was unable to get things going Friday night.
“We didn’t play with any heart tonight,” Charlotte coach Tom Massolio said. “Coming off a tough loss last night, you have to come out with some heart and I didn’t think we did any of that tonight.
“Difference between tonight and last time was we played better defense (last time). We were a step slow. They wanted the ball more. They looked like a veteran team and we looked like a young team.”
The Bobcats made just five 3-pointers in the win, as they drove to the basket more than in most games.
“We know when we’re open, our guys have the confidence to take (a 3-pointer),” Power said. “We’re trying to engrave in them that if we can get to the rim, then we’re going to be alright.”
Jayden Grant, Ahmad Johnson and Jake Haas each had nine points for the Tarpons. Johnson also had six rebounds.
For North Port, Brandon Graff had seven points and four assists. Bryson Thieme scored six points with eight rebounds.
NORTH PORT 67, CHARLOTTE 46
Charlotte 6 13 9 18 — 46
North Port 17 15 17 18 — 67
Charlotte (46): Johnson 9, Grant 9, Haas 9, Batts 6, Reaves 6, Scribner 3, Lee 2, Ingle 2. Totals: 17(6) 6-9 46.
North Port (67): Bryan O’Boyle 14, Ben Via 12, Gene Oliver 11, Graff 7, Thieme 6, Baker 5, Z. Babut 4, D. Babut 4, Cohen 2, Disukes 2. Totals: 21 (5) 20-21 67.