Special to the Recorder
After a promising start to the 2018-19 basketball season, the Ponte Vedra Sharks have now dropped nine of their last 12 games, including three in a row last week to see their season record fall to 6-10.
What was especially troublesome was that two of their losses last week were against teams they had defeated on the road earlier in the season.
It was painfully obvious that the Sharks missed their season’s leading scorer Ben Houser, who is out indefinitely with an ankle sprain. Poor shooting in losses last week to Clay, Bartram Trail and Creekside — where Ponte Vedra was held to under 42 points in each contest — contributed to a disappointing week of action.
After the first half of action in their first game following a long holiday break was completed, it looked like the Sharks were well on their way to an easy road victory against Clay. A 17-point Shark lead just moments before halftime quickly evaporated, however, as the Sharks were only able to score a miniscule two points in the third quarter.
A 3-pointer canned at the third-quarter buzzer gave the Blue Devils a lead they would never again relinquish as the hosts pulled away to earn a 44-35 victory. Reese Russi with 13 and Luke Martin with 10 points were in double figures for the losers, but the six remaining players employed by coach Bud Beech were only able to score a combined 12 tallies.
A return to their home court did little to energize the Sharks as they lost convincingly 51-37 to a Bartram Trail team the locals had defeated in the season opener. Outscored in every quarter by the visiting Bears, only Luke Martin’s 13 points were in double figures in a game in which coach Beech used 11 players to find a winning combination.
With Creekside coming to the Shark Tank the following evening — a team the Sharks had defeated 49-41 before the holiday break — the Sharks were confident of a repeat victory. That was not to be as once again the Sharks suffered. Not only from some woeful shooting, the Sharks were also soundly outrebounded by Creekside 32-12.
The loss could have been more one-sided as Creekside was only able to convert on a dismal 12 of 26 at the free throw line as the Knights won but their fifth game of the season.
The Sharks are hopeful that a near week’s respite will revise the potential the Sharks displayed earlier in the season. A dubious task awaits Ponte Vedra Thursday night as the team travels to Palatka to play a state-ranked Panthers team that reached the final four last season and currently boasts an enviable 12-2 record. Although losing to Palatka earlier in the season at home, it arguably was the best played game of the season for the Sharks in a hard fought 70-65 loss.