By Chuck Ballaro, Sun Correspondent
In one moment, the emotions of four years came washing down the face of Rachael Livingston.
After fouling out of the best game of her life in her regular-season finale at home against Imagine and getting the standing ovation from the Pirate faithful, the tears poured down as coach Kevin Purcell embraced her.
The senior scored a season-high 20 points as the Port Charlotte High School girls basketball team cruised to a 63-45 victory over Imagine of North Port on senior night at the Pirates Cove.
Livingston chose the best time to have her best outing. And is peaking at the right time, with the district tournament looming.
“Rachel has been more consistent lately, and that’s good to see going into (districts),” Purcell said. “Rachel is an emotional player. She was focused and she wanted it.”
Livingston, in true style, deflected the credit to her teammates, who gave her plenty of opportunities for easy buckets.
“I was open under the basket and they passed me the ball. They made it the best night of my life,” Livingston said. “I spent everything on this court for four years. I gave up everything in the summer to come here.”
The four Port Charlotte seniors, Livingston, Brianna White, Gerda Guerrier, and Bridgette Lombardo, were honored before the game, so emotions were high from the beginning as they played an overmatched, but game Sharks squad.
Port Charlotte (9-12) led wire to wire, racing out to a double-digit lead and never looking back. Ashlyn Henderson scored 18 points for the Pirates, which led by as much as 29 before the Sharks made it respectable.
Katie Klein, last year’s leading scorer playing only her second game since returning from an injury that kept her out all season, led Imagine (8-10) with 12 points, 11 of which came in the second half.
Despite playing well above its class, Imagine hung tough after it figured out how to handle the Pirates’ pressure.
“Port Charlotte put the pressure on us and we wigged out a little in the beginning before we got our bearings,” said Robert Toth. “It was tough because that’s the type of pressure that gives us trouble.”
But the night belonged to the Pirates’ seniors, who felt the love from the home fans not only Tuesday, but for four years.
“I’m every thankful for my Pirate family. They have always been here to support me and the team. It’s been nice,” Livingston said.
PORT CHARLOTTE 63, IMAGINE 45
Imagine 4 12 9 20 – 45
Port Charlotte 15 19 15 14 – 63
Imagine (45): Katie Klein 12, Woods 7, Kayle Christie 5, Karessa Christie 5, Faulker 5, Andrade 4, Morales 4, Chapme 2, Marra 1. Totals: 12(3) 18-29 45.
Charlotte (63): Rachael Livingston 20, Ashlyn Henderson 18, Baermann 9, Dennard 8, Guerrier 5, Lombardo 2, Dempaire 1. Totals: 23(4) 13-24 63.