By Pete Sisk, Sun Correspondent
CAPE CORAL — It would make sense that Pirates are pretty good at stealing.
The Port Charlotte Pirates snatched five of their 10 steals in the decisive third quarter Wednesday night, turning a halftime tie into a 58-44 win at Cape Coral in the District 7A-10 semifinals.
That sets up a Port Charlotte-Charlotte duel for the district title Friday night.
Coach Bill Specht’s Pirates (22-3) were a little out of sorts as the third quarter began, but after a time out to set things straight, Port Charlotte took control.
During the third period, the Seahawks had as many turnovers (six) as they did points. Five of those turnovers were Pirate steals.
Taking advantage, Port Charlotte converted a 26-all tie at intermission into a 42-32 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“Our kids played with a lot of heart,” Specht said. “Before the game I was telling them this time of year you’ve got to make plays. And I had a lot of kids step up and make plays.”
Cape Coral (19-8) never got any closer than 10 points as Port Charlotte kept retuning to the foul line again and again to put the game away. Two Seahawks fouled in the game’s waning moments.
Specht said the Pirates’ plan was to keep Cape Coral on the perimeter. Early on, that worked in the Seahawks’ favor as Jonathan Moreno and company were hot from 3-point range. Moreno hit three treys in the first half and Cape had five overall.
“We had a pretty good game plan,” Specht said. “We knew we wanted to make them shoot from outside. In the first quarter they did a good job running their offense. Then in the second quarter we started our 2-2-1 (defense) and it did a good job for us. We made them stay on the outside shooting.”
However, the long-range shooting began to cool in the second quarter, and by the third, the Seahawks were ice cold. By the time Cape hit another 3, the game was getting away.
“This time of year, it’s tough to shoot the 3-ball,” Specht said. “The kids get a little tight. So we force teams to shoot from outside rather than around the basket.”
Meanwhile, the Pirates started piling up the takeaways. Cape led 29-28 with 5:51 left in the third quarter before the thefts began. On three of four possessions in the third quarter, Port Charlotte players cut between Cape’s guards, taking the ball away and heading downcourt for layups.
Tyler Perry’s steal and layup gave Port Charlotte the lead for good at 33-31, and the Pirates didn’t look back.
Perry had five of the Pirates’ 10 steals. He also scored 11 points and had six rebounds.
“Tyler Perry’s on a bum ankle,” Specht said. “He turned it in the quarterfinal game. He came out tonight and sucked it up.”
Shemar Fleurissant led Port Charlotte with 19 points. Sean Price scored 14 and added five rebounds.
For Cape Coral, Moreno and Brandon Alcide scored 12 points each. Harwin Francois had a game-high eight rebounds.
Port Charlotte, Cape Coral and Charlotte were all 9-3 in the district in the regular season. Charlotte went 3-1 against its rivals to be the top seed for the district tournament. Cape got a tiebreaker over Port Charlotte to be the second seed.
The Pirates will be looking to avenge a pair of regular-season losses to Charlotte in Friday’s district title game.
PORT CHARLOTTE 58, CAPE CORAL 44
Port Charlotte 14 12 16 16 – 58
Cape Coral14 12 6 12 – 44
Port Charlotte: Morris 8, Sean Price 14, Perez-Dunn 2, Shemar Fleurissant 19, Tyler Perry 11, Cleveland 2, Johnson 2. Totals: 20 (2) 16-28 58.
Cape Coral: Hyppolite 4, Brandon Alcide 12, Markovich 7, Francois 2, Gibson 7, Jonathan Moreno 12. Totals: 17 (7) 3-7 44.