Sharks Basketball Season Comes to a Close
It was not the ending Ponte Vedra’s boys basketball team had hoped for following their crushing season ending defeat at the hands of powerful Bishop Kenny last Thursday.
After the Sharks defeated arch rival Nease 61-45 on January 21, improving their record to an impressive 12-7 mark, the young Shark squad went into a season ending tailspin that saw them drop 7 of their last 8 games to finish with a losing record of 13 victories against 14 defeats.
Two of those losses went into overtime, with the most crushing of losses being the extra frame heartbreaking loss to Nease in the district championship on February 8th.
The dispirited Sharks then limped into the lair of the Bishop Kenney Crusaders last Tuesday where they suffered their most lopsided defeat over the past couple of seasons, losing 70-30 to a hot shooting BK five.
It appeared that the Sharks were headed for their second consecutive district title against Nease when the locals carried a 37-30 lead into the final quarter against the Panthers. However, it was not to be, as the Sharks went into a deepfreeze from the field where they were held scoreless over the final eight minutes.
The Sharks were only able to net a pair of free throws from Jackson Johnson in the pivotal final quarter as Nease rallied to send the game into overtime.
Ponte Vedra had many golden opportunities to put away the game late in the contest, but they missed numerous shots, including a missed lay-up with two seconds remaining that would have insured the victory.
Johnson tallied 16 points and added five assists to lead the Sharks, and it was his nifty pass to a wide-open Shark that created the missed lay-up shortly before the buzzer sounded, sending the game into overtime.
With momentum on their side, the Panthers out scored the Sharks 11-3 as the PV shooting doldrums continued.
The disconsolate Ponte Vedra five were then forced to travel to Bishop Kenney to play a team that was determined to make amends for their stunning 2012 regional overtime defeat at the hands of the Sharks.
The much taller Crusaders jumped out to an early 13-3 first quarter lead and never looked back; a very impressive overall performance for a team that could very well make it to the final four in Lakeland.
The Sharks were hard pressed to muster any wide-open shots against the Crusaders, featuring a front line that measured 6’7, 6’5 and 6’5.
The Crusaders shot a red hot 55 percent from the field and, when a shot did miss the mark, there was the presence of 6’7 Brian Dawkins to put back any missed shots. Dawkins collected 22 points; many of those coming off his teammates missed shots.
Bishop Kenney’s towering front line limited the Shark regulars to an astounding low total of but nine rebounds, with no PV player pulling down more than two rebounds.
The Crusaders defense was stifling as only the quickness and ball handling wizardry of Jackson Johnson was able to create any shots at the basket. Johnson saw many of his early shots just barely miss the mark, which forecast a dark night for the Sharks. Johnson was the only Shark to get into double figures with 10 points to go along with four assists.
The Sharks can certainly take solace in the fact that they return 11 of their 13 roster players for next years basketball season, including the return of one of the area’s leading players in Johnson.
Underclassmen accounted for all the points scored in their season ending defeat and coach Bud Beech is confident that his Sharks will enjoy a successful campaign beginning next November.
Much of the optimism will center on the return of a pair of 6’4 growing sophomores who could be the x-factor for the 2013-14 season. Lanky Quinn Carey has a ton of potential and could be the desired scoring threat the Sharks will need to take some of the pressure off of Johnson.
Donovan Garrard did an outstanding job on the backboards; as his season total of 160 rebounds is second only to UNF standout Beau Beech in Ponte Vedra annals.
Also returning for the Sharks will be four other players who should be a part of next year’s rotation. 6’2 Junior James Crowther was hampered midway through this season with a dislocated thumb and hopes to bounce back to his former form.
6’1 sophomore Matt McGueier was a three-point threat for the Sharks who hopes to develop the other aspects of his game before the start of next season. Sophomore guards Pat Boylan and Corey Russi flashed some promise during the course of the season, with both players being especially active on the defensive end of the floor.
Much of the expectation for an improved campaign next season will ride on the shoulders of the Shark’s playmaking junior guard Jackson Johnson. Johnson set a junior class mark by recording 506 points in the season, with his 19 ppg. average ranking in the top five in the Jacksonville area.
Johnson was tops in the entire Jacksonville area with free throws made (124-146) for an excellent 85 percent and also was the top three point marksman in the area as well with 81 made three pointers. The 5’9 junior netted at least one three pointer in each of this season’s 27 games.