SHARKS TIP OFF PRE-SEASON ACTION
With a number of veterans returning from the school’s first 20 victory season in school history, there is much optimism for this coming year’s Shark’s varsity basketball squad.
Posting a record of 21 wins, including a perfect 10-0 sweep in the district, as well as a district tournament championship, the 2013-14 Sharks came one overtime loss to powerful Baker County from advancing deeper into last year’s playoff run.
However, this year’s Ponte Vedra squad has one major void to fill in their lineup with the graduation of last year’s St. Johns County Player of the Year, Jackson Johnson.
Although Johnson was a leading scorer for the Sharks, it may well be the loss of his ball-handling skills that will be the biggest challenge for coaches Bud Beech and Marcus Perez.
On the plus side, the Sharks return their entire front line from last year’s squad, giving Shark coaches high hopes for the coming campaign.
Returning to the Shark’s front line include a pair of seniors who have been regulars since their sophomore season, 6’4 sharp shooter Quinn Carey and 6’5 center Donovan Garrard. Energetic 6’4 senior forward Ross McCarthy also returns for the Sharks and could be a vastly improved performer during the coming season.
A member of the Shark’s varsity team since his freshman season, 6’2 Matt McGuier could nail down a spot in the starting lineup as a guard or a forward.
Coaches Beech and Perez will look at a number of options to see who can fill the role of the departed Johnson from last year’s championship five. Among those vying for prominent roles in the backcourt include holdover’s from last years squad, Corey Russi and Pat Boylan.
However, Russi and Boylan, along with sophomore guard JD Pirris will have a late start as they have been busy playing football for Matt Tobin’s gridders. With the football season coming to an early end, this trio will have about a week to round into basketball form.
The Sharks are hopeful of getting a boost from a foursome that guided last year’s Junior Varsity team to an impressive 15-4 mark. Joining Pirris on the varsity roster are 5’11 Matt Johnson, 6’0 Clay Welch and 6’1 Tyler Perez, with Johnson being the only junior.
Once again coaches Beech and Perez will have a large roster, making for some good competition to command more playing time. Returning reservists from last year’s squad hoping to bid for more playing time include junior guard Thatcher Rottinghaus, and seniors Logan Morris, Robert Morris, Jonathan Fennell, and 6’6 Vince DePorre.
The coaches are optimistic that 6’5 Mark Harris will be able to spell the veterans in the frontcourt when the muscular 265 pound Harris wraps up his football season.
Before the Sharks begin the regular season with a road trip on Monday, November 17th to St. Augustine, the Shark fans will get an early preview when they play a pair of pre-season games this coming week at home in the Todd Mitchell Memorial pre-season classic.
This coming Tuesday the Sharks host neighboring St. Augustine St. Joseph in a 7:00 PM tip-off before facing one of the top teams in the nation on Thursday, Nov. 13.
Arlington Country Day, rated as the No. 9 team in the USA, will have a dozen players ranging in height from 6’6 to 6’11, with players from many different nations represented. This will be a rare opportunity for Shark fans to see up close many players who will be playing at the next level in the coming years.
The Sharks will make their first home appearance on November 24 when they play host to first time opponent First Coast.