Lee High of Jacksonville ended Ponte Vedra’s magical season Tuesday night with a 53-44 victory — a score that was in no way indicative of how tight the contest was. The Sharks led at every stop before Lee outscored the hosts 21-9 to end PVHS’ season with an impressive 22-5 record.
Following a Luke Pirris 3-point play with 1:26 left on the clock, the Sharks trailed the Generals by one point, 44-45. However, that would prove to be the final points tallied by the Sharks as missed shots, a key turnover and fouls doomed the Sharks down the stretch.
The game marked the end for three seniors — Alex Madson, Jack Polian and Rory Mayer, who played a major role in the Sharks’ winning season. However, the Sharks return three of the six players who garnered all the minutes in the Lee contest, including junior Pirris, who led all scorers with 21 points in the losing effort. Sophomore Nathan Bunkosky and junior JT Kelly, who scored 13 points between them, will certainly help form a solid group of returnees for the following season.
Even in defeat second year head coach Kevin Whirity lauded his 2020-21 squad.
“Their work ethic, unselfishness and determination was remarkable,” Whirity said. “Never seen a group of men fight for something they love so hard.”
The Sharks earned their third-ever trip to the regional semifinals and a date with Lee after a commanding 60-39 victory over Terry Parker on Feb. 18. The win helped atone for Parker’s first-round overtime victory back in 2012 when Parker advanced all the way to the state final.
The visiting Parker squad was held to a single point in the first quarter and only 13 total tallies by halftime as the Sharks roared to a 28-13 lead.
Ponte Vedra may have played its best overall game of the season as the Sharks received balanced scoring from all five of their starters, as well as playing tenacious defense for all 32 minutes.
Pirris once again was the leading scorer for the Sharks with 16 points, but his other starting teammates were huge contributors.
Jack Polian ignited the Sharks in the opening quarter with five steals and chipped in 11 points, while Bunkosky and Rory Mayer netted 10. Just missing making it unanimous for the starters to hit double figures, but playing an exceptional game, was Madson. The senior guard went 4-for-6 from the field for eight points, but he had no turnovers against the very quick Braves team.
Whirity and his 2021 Sharks team can be proud of the school’s best ever mark of 22-5.
“They’re leaving behind a legacy that will never be forgotten and I am so proud to be a part of the PV hoop brand,” Whirity said. “PV basketball has taken a gigantic step forward tonight with these men.”