Sharks now at full strength after 2-2 start


Veteran Head Coach Bud Beech has to be pleased to have a 2-2 record after playing the first four games of the basketball season without his All-Area player from the previous season, JD Pirris.

Pirris will now join the basketball team after starring on Ponte Vedra’s state runner-up football team that concluded their storybook season in an epic state championship game last week in Orlando.

Also joining Pirris will be two other football players, 6’3” junior Zach Summers and 6’1” sophomore Reese Russi. The addition of this trio will be welcome news for Beech and the Sharks, as two regulars could be lost for an undisclosed time with injuries suffered in games this past week.

Will Mons, who led the Sharks with a game-high 13 points in an earlier 66-49 victory over Clay, went down with a knee injury in the Sharks’ 81-59 loss to Bartram Trail. Dean McCarthy then became the next Shark casualty, when he incurred a nasty ankle injury in the Shark’s thrilling 84-82 Friday night victory over Palatka.

Fortunately for Shark followers, both of their victories were district contests, including the win at home against perennial power Palatka. Disappointed that their Friday night game with Palatka could not be moved to another date, the Shark players took out their frustration of not being able to watch their fellow football classmates play for a rare state championship in Orlando with their best effort of the young season.

Three returning regulars from the Sharks’ final-eight team of 2015-16 notched career highs in Friday’s 82-80 win against Palatka. Eston Hensley led all Shark scorers with 24 points, 18 of them coming in the opening half. The Sharks pulled away from their district rivals in the decisive fourth quarter by pouring in a robust 28 points, with Chris Tomacewski and Jack Shannon combing for 19 of the period points.

Shannon would end the night with a career-high 20 points while the energetic Tomacewski tallied 16. Just as he did last year in a road victory against arch rival Nease, Tomacewski was clutch in the fourth quarter as his 10 points put a dagger in the Panthers’ hopes for victory.

Yet another Shark set a personal high when promising sophomore Ben Houser chipped in with 15 points. Senior playmaker Mike Nicandri played a huge role in the important victory with his canny ball handling while dribbling through the always intense Palatka pressure defense.

The Sharks can now set their sights on improving on their young record with the addition of Pirris to the starting lineup. As a junior, the 6’2” guard averaged better than 16 points a game; Pirris saved his best for last when he averaged a whopping 25 points a game during the Sharks’ improbable playoff run that ended in an overtime road defeat at Zephyrhills.

Coach Beech is hopeful that the Sharks can extend their current record with a pair of district victories this week, both games contested at the friendly Shark Tank. Menendez visited Shark Country this past Tuesday while district newcomer Matanzas will visit Friday Dec. 16, when the game will immediately follow the junior varsity contest that tips off at 6 p.m.