Ponte Vedra falls to Palatka in district semifinals, finishes season with fewest wins in 9 years

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Special to the Recorder

After staying close with a talented Palatka five for the first half of last week’s district semifinals, the Sharks ran into a buzzsaw in the second half as the Panthers ended the Ponte Vedra season, 58-37.

The Sharks trailed a Palatka team that went to the final four the previous season by only two points, 20-18, at the halftime break, and were still within striking distance at the third-quarter break, trailing 33-26. But then the wheels came off the Sharks in the final eight minutes of action as Palatka outgunned the Sharks 25-11 to pull away for an outcome that was much closer than the final score.

Only Reese Russi and Johnny Corlazzoli reached double figures for the Sharks, and just barely at 10 points each. Palatka did an outstanding job by nearly shutting out two of the top three scorers all season for PVHS. Luke Martin had five points, but none in the second half, while the team’s leading scorer all year, Ben Houser, was held scoreless for the game.

With the defeat, the Sharks end the season with a record of 10-16, the team’s fewest wins since the 2009-10 season.

Much work will have to be done before the start of the 2019-20 campaign, as Ponte Vedra will be without five graduating seniors who scored 87 percent of the points this season.  Only returning reserves James Kohnke and Caden Fordham saw extended minutes.

All five of the departing seniors did make a mark in the Ponte Vedra record book following the loss to Palatka.  

With more than 600 career points, Reese Russi stands at No. 5 in all-time PVHS scoring, while Ben Houser slipped into the top 10 rankings at No. 7.

Luke Martin displayed expert marksmanship at the free throw stripe by nailing 60 of his 70 free throw attempts and will cap his career by making 86 of his 107 charity tosses. His 85.7 percent for the season and 80.3 percent for his two-year career nudges him just ahead of Jackson Johnson in percentages. In fairness to Johnson, Martin’s sample size was much smaller than Johnson’s. Johnson, who played division 1 basketball at Tulane, made his mark by attempting 458 shots, more than four times Martin’s 107.

Logan Conway was the defensive ace for the current Sharks. The two-sport standout ended his career with nearly 100 steals, good for sixth all-time in Sharks annals. Johnny Corlazzoli, who capped his career by playing his finest basketball down the stretch, will see his name posted in the record books as the sixth all-time career assist leader at Ponte Vedra High.

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