By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Following a 33-point blowout win over Southwest Prime in the morning, the Port Charlotte Pirates notched another win over the Arizona Wildcats in their second game of the Port Charlotte Shootout Saturday afternoon.
Thanks to a team-high 21 points from Tyler Perry, the Pirates grabbed a 78-69 victory in their final game of the day. Perry was two rebounds shy of a double-double and hit three 3-pointers — all in the first half — to help the Pirates build an early 10-point lead over the travel team from Arizona.
Point guard Alex Romero added 16 points, Shemar Fleurissant scored 12 and Brandon Gainey pitched in with 11 — nine on 3–pointers — for a Port Charlotte squad that led for a majority of the afternoon without coach Kip Rhoten, who was on vacation.
“We just have a group of guys who’ve been together for a few years now and have bought in to what we’re doing and what we’ve instilled in them for the past few years,” Port Charlotte assistant coach Sean Bailey said. “This is Rhoten’s offense and he’s been running it for the past few years, and even when he’s away, we don’t skip a beat. We continue going.”
The Pirates withstood a game-high 33 points from Carlos Montuia, who made four shots from beyond the arc. Kevon Hazle was next for Arizona with 13 while Christiano Gonos finished with 11.
Hazle hit a 3-pointer to start the game and it turned out to be Arizona’s biggest lead of the day. A layup from Fleurissant and a triple by Gainey put the Pirates up 5-3 and they never trailed again.
Fleurrisant, a senior guard, also stuffed the stat sheet with five rebounds and five assists while helping run the offense with Romero. Port Charlotte methodically built the lead throughout the game and led by as many as 12 late when Fleurrisant’s free throw put the team up 70-58 with 1:49 left.
“Those two always do a great job. He and Alex worked hand-in-hand next to each other,” Bailey said.
Perry, who also is on the football team, ultimately provided the separation on the scoreboard in the first half. With Port Charlotte up 30-26, Perry and Montuia exchanged 3-pointers before Perry hit two more to extend Port Charlotte’s lead to 39-29.
The Wildcats closed to within 43-36 at the half, and were within 54-49 in the second half on another triple by Montuia, but never got closer.
“Tyler has a long way to go but he’s evolving really well,” Bailey said. “He’s buying in, he’s learning and he’s also a football player so he’s sharing his time with football and basketball so I give him a lot of credit for that. He didn’t miss a beat today.”
Bailey said Port Charlotte is still continuing to find its way this summer due to the loss of leading scorer Sean Price to graduation. That’s been evident by a .500 record in various tournaments, but if Saturday was any indication, the Pirates could be a very dangerous team come basketball season.
“We’re not really putting much weight into the record,” Bailey said. “We’re running a lot of sets, drawing a play up and running it. We’re not really pressing or anything like that, just playing half court man the whole time. When the season comes, we’ll be ready to go. Right now, we’re just instilling the fundamentals in them before the season starts.”
The tournament continues today at Port Charlotte High School gyms.
PORT CHARLOTTE 78, ARIZONA 69
Arizona 36 33 — 69: Carlos Montuia 33, Kevon Hazle 13, Christiano Gonos 11, Sangue 5, Teapler 4, Diallo 2, Fila 1. Totals: 25 (8) 11-16.
Port Charlotte 43 35 — 78: Tyler Perry 21, Alex Romero 16, Shamar Fleurissant 12, Brandon Gainey 11, Cleveland 9, Gurner 4, Rondell 3, Stone 2. Totals: 27 (8) 16-30