GIRLS BASKETBALL: Charlotte drops first district game

By Pete Sisk, Sun Correspondent

CAPE CORAL – Charlotte took a big punch Friday night, dropping a 43-35 District 7A-10 game at Cape Coral High School.

But a win Saturday night at Island Coast and Friday’s loss won’t hurt nearly as much.

It was the first district loss of the season for Charlotte, with Cape Coral avenging a December defeat on the Tarpons’ court.

“Any time you have a district game on the road, you’ve got to be ready,” Charlotte coach Matt Stephenson said. “Hostile environment.

“We just didn’t shoot well tonight.”

The number that matters now for both teams: One.

Each team has one loss in the district. One game tonight, rescheduled from early in the season, will decide the top seed for the district tournament.

Charlotte has an advantage. Stephenson picked up a big victory for his girls right after the loss, winning a coin toss over Seahawks coach  Alexis Griffin. A Win tonight and the road to the District 7A-10 title will go through Punta Gorda.

That’s one place where Cape Coral has a losing streak. It’s the second year in a row the Seahawks have lost a coin flip for the top seed.

However, Cape Coral also has a distinct advantage. The Seahawks are finished with the district portion of their schedule.

Why is that an advantage?

Friday night’s game was a brawl, a street fight. It was physical from start to finish, with two Tarpons fouling out and a combined total of six other players called for at least three fouls.

“We’ve got to get used to playing that way,” Stephenson said. “Most likely we’re going to end up seeing them again. We’ll be prepared for them next time.”

Tonight, the Cape Coral players and coaches get to be interested spectators at Island Coast. And forget their crosstown rivalry. For one night, at least, the Seahawks will be firmly behind the Gators.

“I will definitely be there,” said Griffin, a former Seahawks player now coaching the team.

The Seahawks can sit back and rest on their one loss, while the Tarpons have to shake off Friday’s defeat and take on a capable Island Coast that had Friday night off. Charlotte has to overcome both the emotion of the loss and the fatigue that could arise from playing big games two nights in a row.

“We’ve got to focus back in on tonight’s game at Island Coast,” Stephenson said. “Tough time, tough week. We knew that coming in.

“We’ll make adjustments. We’ll be all right.”

Cape Coral won the game with a dominating fourth quarter. The teams had swapped blows for three periods, with the Tarpons up 26-25 with eight minutes to play. Senior Diedre Cheremond led the Seahawks to an 18-9 advantage in the final period for the victory.

Chermond had 16 of her 23 points in the second half. She also had nine rebounds.

“I’m very proud of my girls,” Griffin said.

In all, the Seahawks outscored the Tarpons 29-17 in the second half after Charlotte held an 18-12 lead at intermission.

“They worked hard. They’ve been working all week,” Griffin said. “Defense, free throws. At the end, they made a big difference.”

For Charlotte, Michelle Bunch had 10 points and nine rebounds despite being whistled for three fouls in the first quarter alone. Kelyn Moses had 14 points for Charlotte.

The Tarpons hit only seven shots from the field, but stayed in the game until the fourth quarter by making 20 of 25 from the free-throw line.

Charlotte 6 12 8 9 – 35
Cape Coral 8 4 11 18 – 43

Charlotte (43): Kelyn Moses 14, Qualls 3, Lamb 6, Michelle Bunch 10, Kirkus 2. Totals: 7 (2) 20-25 35.
Cape Coral (35): Hardin 6, White 2, Lewis 6, Tisme 6, Diedre Cheremond 23. Totals: 14 (0) 15-25 43.

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