By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
NORTH PORT — North Port sure didn’t make it easy Friday night, but they had just enough late to close out Gulf Coast for the District 8A-12 championship.
Led by 22 points from Bryan O’Boyle, the Bobcats defeated the Sharks 58-49 to claim their first district title since 2015. The Bobcats led by as many as 13, but saw the advantage cut to a single point near the end of the third quarter before closing it out late in the fourth.
Bryce Foggin tallied a double-double for the Sharks, scoring 18 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. His free throw with 38.7 seconds remaining pulled Gulf Coast to within 52-49, but North Port scored six points in a 15-second span — aided by two turnovers — to pull away.
The Bobcats forced 26 turnovers for the game in spite of turning it over 20 times themselves. They will host Palmetto in Thursday’s regional quarterfinal.
“I think we got a little bit content with the lead and we stopped being as aggressive as we should’ve been,” North Port coach Ryan Power said. “Plus, our outside shots didn’t fall but we finally got a layup there at the end to get the momentum going.”
Luke Baker also reached double figures for the Sharks, scoring 12 points to go with six rebounds and two blocks. He scored seven straight points late in the third quarter before Kyle White made two free throws to pull Gulf Coast (10-12) to within 42-41.
But that’s when O’Boyle stepped up, knocking down a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to end the 9-0 run that put North Port (16-8) back up four. O’Boyle made three triples in all, including two in the first quarter as the Bobcats built a 16-8 lead.
“They just tried to stop me from hitting open threes and getting to the basket,” O’Boyle said. “My teammates kept finding ways to get me the ball and I kept scoring.”
Ben Via and Zach Babut each added eight points for North Port while Bryson Thieme.
NORTH PORT 58, GULF COAST 49
Gulf Coast 8 16 17 8 — 49: Bryce Foggin 18, Luke Baker 12, White 7, Joubert 5, Heaven 3, Gomez 2, Kintz 2. Totals: 17 (3) 12-17.
North Port 16 19 10 13 — 58: Bryan O’Boyle 22, Z. Babut 8, Via 8, Cohen 8, Thieme 4, Graff 4, Allen 2, Oliver 2. Totals: 23 (3) 9-16.