Rebounding struggles hand Sharks first loss of season

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The Ponte Vedra Sharks girls basketball team suffered their first loss of the season following a 52-43 defeat on the road against University Christian Nov. 23.

It was the rebounding by the Christians that made a huge difference in the game, especially at the offensive end of the court.

As a result, the Sharks trailed 11-5 at the end of the first quarter thanks to second and sometimes third chances for the Christians at the offensive end.

The inability to grab rebounds often negated excellent defense by the Sharks (2-1), which forced the Christians into a missed shot, only to have the possession continue.

“My tallest player is like 5-10 or 5-11 and they have a 6-foot-4 girl,” Ponte Vedra head coach Jim Piggot said. “We have to focus on technique, which is boxing out, and a lot of times if it’s a long rebound that isn’t good for us.”

Unfortunately, for the Sharks there were several long rebounds that seemed to bounce right into the hands of opposing players.

However, the Sharks chipped away throughout the second quarter and eventually tied it up at 15-all after Morgan Gavazzi knocked down a three-pointer from the left wing with less than one minute to go before halftime.

“We were kind of timid to start the game and we had some mental errors in our passing,” Piggot said. “The first two games, we just didn’t have that.”

The Sharks opened the season with a 55-34 road victory over Episcopal and a convincing 63-48 win against Bartram Trail in their home opener.

Gavazzi drilled another shot from long range in the closing seconds of the third quarter to keep the score tied at 28 heading into the final frame, before the Christians extended their lead for good late.

Even though the Christians used their athleticism to play tight defense and frustrate the Sharks’ point guards throughout, Piggot trusts that it is something his players will learn from when facing similar teams in the future.  

“They (Christians) get after it and get after you, but I know we have a lot of good ball-handling guards on our team,” Piggot said.

With it being the Sharks’ first loss of the season, Piggot is interested to see how they respond from the adversity moving forward, especially with the roster being so young.

“We just have to maintain our composure and just get better every game,” Piggot said. “I told the girls that ‘you can learn more from a loss than a victory.’”

Piggot has embraced the fact that they are young and talented and is looking forward to seeing how they continue to develop.

“In my 12 years, this is probably one of the strongest teams I’ve had,” Piggot said. “We’re fairly young with Paige (Hulihan) and Reeghan (Mayer) as senior starters and the rest are pretty much sophomores.”

According to Hulihan, she has seen a difference this year in the way that the girls look up to her now that she is a senior on the squad.

“We’ve got a great group of girls here,” Hulihan said. “It’s coming along and we’re really getting used to playing together out there on the court. I think everyone will take it upon themselves to work on the things we need to work on and just make sure we continue the improvement.”

Hulihan led the scoring effort for the Sharks on the night with 17 points, including going 7-of-10 from the free throw line.

Kennedy Rosendahl and Morgan Gavazzi each hit a pair of three-pointers in the game. Rosendahl finished with eight points and Gavazzi had six.    

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