GIRLS BASKETBALL: Bunch leads Charlotte in bounce back win

By Pete Sisk, Sun Correspondent

CAPE CORAL — Now that’s how you bounce back from a tough loss.
Charlotte’s girls basketball team locked up the top seed in the District 7A-10 tournament Saturday night with a dominating 59-32 win against Island Coast.
Showing no ill effects from a 43-35 loss Friday at Cape Coral — Charlotte’s only district loss — the Tarpons put Island Coast away with a 20-4 second quarter on Saturday.
“Last night hurt (at Cape Coral), so they came out and did what they had to do to be the number one team,” Tarpons coach Matt Stephenson said. “They knew what they had to do coming in here tonight. Always proud of them. Always, always, always.”
Any concerns of fatigue in playing district road games two nights in a row were quickly erased.
“I think we were kind of tired, but we got adrenalized whenever we starting thinking about our chance to be first in the district,” Charlotte’s Michelle Bunch said.
Bunch led Charlotte with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and three steals on Saturday.

With a big halftime lead of 38-15, Stephenson was able to get his starters some rest in the second half.

Both Charlotte and Cape Coral finished 11-1 in district play, with each team beating the other at home.

Charlotte won a coin flip with Cape after Friday’s game, earning the Tarpons the top seed once they disposed of Island Coast (10-4 in the district) on Saturday.

Any Cape Coral players or coaches making the trip to Island Coast on Saturday went home disappointed.

Island Coast had given the Tarpons fits in a 48-45 Charlotte win in December, but there was no drama on Saturday.

“We didn’t defend the post very well” in the first matchup, Stephenson said. “Their post player (6-foot-1 Hailey Kalamaras) had her way with us early. We made some adjustments, and have just been playing a lot better down the stretch.”

Added Bunch: “We really wanted to beat them worse than we did the first time. We played kind of bad the last time we played them, so we really wanted to beat them and be first in the district. We were really going to get after them.”

It turns out the Tarpons may have had a small boost in that regard. Island Coast athletic director Terry Thimlar said after the game that two Gators players were held out Saturday night after missing school on Friday.

However, considering the margin of victory, those two missing players may not have been that big a factor.

Kelyn Moses had 11 points and four assists for the Tarpons. Janielle Blue led Island Coast with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Charlotte had a big advantage at the foul line, getting Island Coast into the double bonus in both halves of the game. The Tarpons outscored the Gators 18-2 at the free-throw line.

“At the end of the day, we had a goal,” Stephenson said. “Number one seed in the district, to have home court. They did an excellent job. I’m very proud of them.”

Charlotte has three regular-season games remaining, all against non-district opponents. The first is Tuesday night at home against Evangelical Christian School.

The District 7A-10 tournament will take place the last week of the month.

Last season, the Tarpons were also 11-1 in the district, only to fall to Cape Coral in the district tournament championship game.

“Senior year, hoping we finally get the district” title, Bunch said.

Charlotte 18 20 8 13 — 59: Kelyn Moses 11, Michelle Bunch 18, Qualls 6, Lamb 6, Kirkus 7, M. Moses 3, Burton 5. Totals: 19 (3) 18-26.
Island Coast 11 4 10 7 — 32: Hofman 6, Pulit 3, Kalamaras 8, Janielle Blue 11, Johnson 2, Garcia 2. Totals: 14 (2) 2-4 32.

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