Sharks start strong in new basketball season

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The Ponte Vedra varsity basketball team opened the new season last week with narrow victories over Bartram Trail, 47-46, and Oakleaf, 59-55. 

The Sharks began their season with a comeback victory at Bartram Trail in a game that found the Sharks trailing 34-14 at the halftime break. Johnny Corlazzoli, Reese Russi, Logan Conway and Jacobi Myers teamed up with Ben Houser to play the entire second half against the host Bears. 

The Sharks outscored the Bears 20-6 in the third quarter to trail by a more manageable six points entering the final period in the first game played in two years at the refurbished Bartram Trail gymnasium. With only two seconds left on the clock and the Sharks trailing by two points, Bartram Trail had a chance to ice the game at the free throw line. After the Bear shooter missed both free throws, Russi pulled down his ninth rebound of the game and immediately called time-out.

Myers launched a perfect pass that hit Ben Houser in stride. Houser took one dribble and launched a shot behind the three-point arch that swished in to give the Sharks an improbable 47-46 victory.

In a complete reversal from their season opener against Bartram Trail, it was the Sharks who jumped out to a commanding lead in their home opener in the Shark Tank. The hot shooting hosts raced out to a commanding 20-6 lead over the visitors from Oakleaf.

It was Oakleaf, however, who would mount a comeback and would begin the second half on a 13-1 run to eventually tie the game at 35-35 with 1:45 to play in the third quarter. The Sharks did not wilt and regained their momentum, outscoring Oakleaf by four points the rest of the way to earn their second straight victory.

Ponte Vedra welcomed back 6-foot-5-inch senior Luke Martin to their lineup in the 59-55 win over Oakleaf.  Martin, returning to Ponte Vedra High where he played for the Sharks in his sophomore season, tallied 13 points and was one of three Sharks in double figures in scoring.

Russi led all scorers with 19 points, with Houser also in double figures with 11 markers.  Corlazzoli had a career high nine points, while dishing off four assists.

Enjoying a four-point lead with less than a minute remaining, the Sharks saw Bishop Kenny score six unanswered points last Friday evening to deny the Sharks a perfect week to begin the 2018-19 season.

It appeared as if the Sharks were on their way to their first 3-0 start since 2011 after a pair of free throws by Russi gave the Sharks a four-point lead with 51 seconds left on the clock. 

The host Crusaders, however, rallied to score six unanswered points to hand the Sharks their first loss of the young season.

The Sharks had a golden opportunity to win the contest, but with less than 10 seconds remaining, a Shark had the ball bounce off his foot out of bounds to set up the game-winning shot.  After a BK layup attempt was deflected out of play, a couple of seconds were still showing on the clock. On the ensuing inbounds play, a Shark defender stumbled and lost his balance, leaving Jack Peeler wide open to sink the game winning shot from just six feet away from the hoop.

Russi led the Sharks in scoring with 15 points while Houser and Martin chipped in with eight tallies. Corlazzoli played a strong floor game for the Sharks with four assists, five rebounds and five points while committing no turnovers.

The Sharks rebounded from their loss to Bishop Kenny with a 68-54 win on Tuesday night against Matanzas. Houser led the team in scoring with 15, while Russi had 13, Martin had 12 and Conway had nine. Martin also had 11 rebounds, while Corlazzoli had seven assists. 

The Sharks will travel just a few minutes down the road  on Friday, Dec. 7 to play Nease at 7:30 p.m. 

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