Port Charlotte edges Mariner in district basketball final
The Mariner Tritons boys basketball team dropped a heartbreaking district final game at Port Charlotte High School Friday night, 56-50. The game — which seemed to feature as many whistles as there were buckets — was tight from start to finish.
The Pirates made their free throws down the stretch to keep a two-possession advantage and seal the 5A-11 title.
“We didn’t make shots and their just a tough team,” said Mariner head coach Ryan Hercek. “It’s a tough environment.”
Port Charlotte got off to a hot start in the opening quarter and held a 16-9 advantage just three minutes into the game and ended the first with a 21-14 advantage.
Mariner (20-5) would answer Port Charlotte’s (16-9) fast start with a strong second quarter, outscoring the Pirates 16-5, taking a 30-26 lead heading into the half.
“We always try to pick up the pace of the game, because we want to play fast,” Hercek said of the change from the first to the second quarter. “They kind of picked us apart when we were in our trap defense and then we went straight up man-to-man.”
The officiating crew was certainly willing to blow the whistle all night, as both teams were in the bonus with more than three minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Tritons senior stand-out Desean Archilles was the main source of scoring for his team all night. He had 12 points by the break and finished with 21 total.
Both Port Charlotte and Mariner had sloppy third quarters, combining for a total of 16 points — nine from the Pirates and 7 from the Tritons, who held a slim 37-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
As the fourth quarter progressed, the Tritons could feel their grasp on the lead start to lessen as the fouls against them mounted. Port Charlotte was in the bonus just three minutes into the final quarter and Hercek was given a technical for, well, it wasn’t quite clear and baffled the head coach.
Tritons fans who traveled well and equaled Pirate supporters enthusiasm were left with shocked looks on their faces, often times their hands flying into the air in confusion when yet another foul was called, or on top of their heads in disbelief.
With a minute left to play, the Tritons were looking at a 53-48 deficit and could not force a steal. Archilles did have a chance to tie things at 50 just prior, but missed the front end of a one-and-one. Port Charlotte sank all of its free throws down the stretch and Mariner was unsuccessful in converting on its possessions, resulting in a Pirate district crown.
“A couple shots one way or the other, that’s how it goes,” Hercek said.
Tritons junior Luis Ferro chipped in with nine points. Elijah Adams and Derrick Purdy added six each for Mariner.
The Tritons, despite the loss, qualified for the 5A state tournament as the No. 8 seed in their region. They will travel Thursday for a tilt against No. 1 seeded Clearwater High School (22-4).
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