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Monday, Mar 30, 2015
Nature Coast

Sharks settle for second as comeback falls short

Hernando Today correspondent


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BROOKSVILLE - With a stacked field at the first-ever Nature Coast Christmas Tournament, the host Sharks wanted to win, but were more concerned with getting their team battle-tested for a playoff run.

The Tarpon Springs Spongers exposed a weakness in the Sharks' armor, limiting sharpshooter Carlos Clemente to eight points, and winning the inaugural title, 53-50, on Monday night.

The Spongers' (14-2 overall, 3-0 in tournament) big men cleaned the glass, led by Scotty James with 18 points and 15 rebounds, garnering him tournament MVP honors.

"Without Scotty James inside-outside we don't have much of a post game." Spongers coach Jerry Woodka said. "We wouldn't be very good."

With Clemente in foul trouble in the first half, Trai Halton and James worked the inside-out game with Halton racking up 10 points and James 13 points and 10 rebounds at the break.

"Obviously when you take Carlos away we aren't going to go offensively," Sharks head coach Dave Pisarcik said. "Tonight we had our opportunities and guys didn't make shots and things didn't go our way."

The second half started with host Nature Coast (10-2, 2-1 in tournament) trailing by 11, 35-24, but it would also spark Jordan Burkes, who finished with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Burkes led the Sharks on a run to start the second half and close the gap to three points late in the game.

"Every time we made a run they answered," Woodka said, "We'd be up by seven, miss a shot and they came right back."

Trailing by three, Nature Coast fouled James, who missed the front end of a 1-and-1 situation, and that is where the game got going.

With 32.5 seconds left, Nature Coast inbounded the ball, and Clemente missed everything on a 3-point attempt.

However, the ball bounded off Mitch Wilcox and Isreal Atkins from Tarpon Springs, giving the Sharks a second life.

Still, James stepped up when it mattered the most, blocking Jacob Crima's last-second attempt at a 3-pointer, Wilcox grabbed the ball and the celebration was on.

"They kept battling the whole game," Woodka said. "Great defensive effort on their part, they never quit, we just kind of got lucky down the stretch."

Despite not winning the tournament, the Sharks were happy to have had a chance to win, and believed the deep field in the tournament would help them later on in the season.

"I definitely thought that we got battle-tested the three games we played," Pisarcik said. "None of the games we played were easy, and we had to come out and execute all three days. Given Tarpon credit, they are a great team and we didn't execute for 32 minutes."

Tarpon Springs 53, Nature Coast 50

Qtr. Scoring 1 2 3 4

TSHS 16 19 10 9 - 53

NCT 15 9 16 10 - 50

Tarpon Springs (53): James 6 5-7 18, Halton 5 3-4 15, Wilcox 5 2-4 12, Turner 1 2-4 4, Atkins 1 0-2 2, Taylor 1 0-0 2, Echvarria 0, Lazzari 0, Lofthouse 0, Jimenez 0, Brennan 0, Takas-Varga 0.

Nature Coast (50): Clemente 2 3-4 8, Bergantino 2 0-0 4, Burkes 8 1-2 19, Dudek 2 3-4 7, Crima 2 2-2 7, Dom. Jones 0 0-2 0, Dar. Jones 2 1-2 5, Carnegie 0, Thomas 0, Copeland 0, Parker 0, Pellage 0.

Three-Point Field Goals: TSHS 3 (Halton 2, James); NCT 4 (Burkes 2, Clemente, Crima)

Total Fouls: TSHS 16, NCT 18

Technical Fouls: None

Fouled Out: Bergantino (NCT)

Records - Nature Coast (10-2, 2-1 in tournament), Tarpon Springs (14-2, 3-0 in tournament).

Nature Coast Christmas Tournament


Tampa-Brooks-DeBartolo 69, Springtead 55

Tarpon Springs 55, Tampa-Jefferson 49

Orlando-Jones 77, Weeki Wachee 24

Nature Coast 79, Lutz-Steinbrenner 66


Springstead 78, Jefferson 71 (OT)

Steinbrenner 76, Weeki Wachee 33

Tarpon Springs 65, Brooks-DeBartolo 53.

Nature Coast 83, Jones 77


(7th place)

Jefferson 85, Weeki Wachee 24

(5th place)

Steinbrenner 79, Springstead 66

(3rd place)

Brooks-DeBartolo 65, Jones 61


Tarpon Springs 53, Nature Coast 50

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