By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — For the second straight year, Port Charlotte will face Largo in the Class 7A regional semifinals.
Only this time, it’ll be in Port Charlotte’s gym, with revenge fueling the Pirates. The Packers ended the Pirates’ season in last year’s regional semifinal by three points, as the Pirates couldn’t overcome a slow start.
Port Charlotte trailed by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter before rallying late, only to miss a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The scoreboard read 77-74 when it was all over, a game with way too many points for Port Charlotte coach Bill Specht’s taste.
He says that’ll need to change in the rematch tonight if the Pirates are to reach their first regional final since 2001.
“It was too high of a scoring game for us,” Specht said. “We gave up 77 points so we’ve got to do a better job of keeping it probably in the 50s to have a chance, at least. Not that they’re an offensive juggernaut, but if the score is that high then that means they’re turning you over and they’re getting offensive rebounds.”
That’s something Largo did to Charlotte in the regional quarterfinals last week. Largo used its press defense to force Charlotte into 16 second-half turnovers to rally from a nine-point deficit to win.
Offensive rebounding was also a big key for the Packers, with big man Bobby Roundtree pulling down 10 offensive boards. If the Pirates plan to advance tonight, they’ll have to take care of the ball and crash the glass.
“I know (Roundtree) is a Division I football player, and it’s not so much that he’s skilled in the post, but he just sees the ball and goes and gets the ball,” Specht said. “Those are the kids that are most dangerous because you have to have a body on them the whole time. We’re not the most physically ferocious team out there when it comes to wide bodies so we’re going to have to do a good job team-wise of keeping him off the glass.”
Sean Price is not only the Pirates’ leading scorer at 22.1 points per game, but he’s also their leading rebounder with 9.9 a game. Only problem is, Price has been dealing with strep throat since the end of last week. Sharpshooter Klayton Morris was also sick during Port Charlotte’s 52-46 win over Boca Ciega in the regional quarterfinals, but luckily for the Pirates, Shemar Fleurissant stepped up with 22 points.
Price still finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double, but Specht knows he’ll need more from his star player to beat Largo.
“Sean’s points are one thing, but people don’t realize like the other night against Boca Ciega he had 12 rebounds. We have to have that,” Specht said. “I texted him the other night and asked him how he was feeling and everything and told him 12 may need to go to about 15, sorry to tell you that. He knows what he’s up against. We just don’t have the size that they have so we have to have that one kid at least try and go battle with everybody else boxing out so hopefully he’s feeling better.”
The trio of Amant Deliu, Brandon Drayton and Dakarai Allen did the Pirates in last year, combining for 50 of the Packers’ 77 points. Drayton and Allen have since graduated, and Deliu is out for the season with a broken foot, but that isn’t fooling Specht — he expects another tight game again.
“They lost a lot last year, but they’re still very athletic,” Specht said. “They still run the same system, still run the same press and everything like that so I just hope we can keep the score down more. They want you to rush your offense, that’s why they press you so much. They want to press the issue and make you take bad shots, take quick shots. If you just keep them playing defense instead of pressing you too much then you’ve got a chance.”
Player School GP PPG
Sean Price Port Charlotte 27 22.1
Keegan Wyman Lemon Bay 24 14.9
Ahmad Johnson Charlotte 27 13.8
Jake Comer Lemon Bay 25 12.3
Bryan O’Boyle North Port 16 12.3
Shemar Fleurissant Port Charlotte 26 12.0
Ben Via North Port 25 9.5
Tyler Caron Lemon Bay 24 9.4
Gene Oliver North Port 25 9.2
Mackengie Simon Charlotte 14 9.1
Jake Haas Charlotte 28 8.8
Zach Babut North Port 24 8.5
Will Batts Charlotte 26 8.5
Hayden Wolff Lemon Bay 24 8.5
Luke Morrill Lemon Bay 26 8.4
Player School GP PPG
Sean Price Port Charlotte 27 9.9
Mackengie Simon Charlotte 14 7.5
Will Batts Charlotte 26 7.3
Hayden Wolff Lemon Bay 24 7.2
Tyler Caron Lemon Bay 24 5.8
Ahmad Johnson Charlotte 27 5.8
Bryan O’Boyle North Port 16 5.6
Brandon Gainey Port Charlotte 25 4.7
Zach Babut North Port 24 4.6
Shemar Fleurissant Port Charlotte 26 4.6
Bryson Thieme North Port 25 4.2
Jake Haas Charlotte 28 4.0
Brandon Graff North Port 23 3.6
Ben Via North Port 25 3.6
Player School GP APG
Cade Huber Lemon Bay 25 3.9
Brandon Graff North Port 23 3.7
Zach Babut North Port 24 3.6
Sean Price Port Charlotte 27 3.5
Michael Reid Lemon Bay 26 3.2
Trevor Bokon Charlotte 24 2.8
Klayton Morris Port Charlotte 27 2.7
Bryan O’Boyle North Port 16 2.4
Gene Oliver North Port 25 1.9
Jayden Grant Charlotte 24 1.9
Shemar Fleurissant Port Charlotte 26 1.7
Kenny Scribner Charlotte 22 1.6