Ponte Vedra’s state title run ended Feb. 23 after the Sharks lost to St. Petersburg’s Lakewood High School, 74-59, in the Class 6A girls basketball semifinals at the Lakeland Center.
Ponte Vedra kept the game close early on, heading into halftime tied with Lakewood at 30. But the Spartans’ superior size and ability to pound the ball inside proved to be too difficult for Ponte Vedra to stop, Sharks Coach Jim Piggott said.
Lakewood managed to build a lead in the third quarter that they carried throughout the rest of the game.
“They were the tallest team we faced this year,” said Piggott, who encouraged his players to keep their heads held high after the loss. “I’m very proud of the team and the progression we made throughout this year.”
Channing Chappell led the Sharks with 20 points. Tess Tibbits and Gillian Boss both scored 11 points, while Rachael Aspinwall added nine points.
Ponte Vedra center Leah McCarthy – the Sharks’ tallest player at 5’11” – said there was nothing they could have done differently to stop Lakewood, whose team featured a lineup of several girls over six feet tall, including a 6’4” player.
“These were the tallest players I’ve ever played against,” said McCarthy, who scored five points in the loss. “We left everything on the court.”
The team’s lone senior, Aspinwall said it was definitely a tough loss but noted she has high hopes for the Sharks moving forward.
“There’s a lot of potential,” she said. “I think they can definitely go farther than we did this year. There’s so much young talent.”
The Sharks finished the season with one senior, three juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen on the team. Consequently, Piggott agrees with his departing senior that the future is bright for his team.
“We have nothing but high hopes,” said Piggott, whose team finished the season 21-7. “As long as they stay grounded and put the work in, I think they’ll get good results again next year.”