Sharks, Panthers look the part in wins, narrow losses


Ponte Vedra used a final 8-0 run late in the fourth quarter to hold off Palatka in a 69-59 victory at the Shark Tank. 

Both teams played race-horse basketball in the first half with the Sharks taking a 43-30 lead at halftime.

Palatka then slowed the tempo down with a 2-3 zone that forced the Sharks to shoot from outside where they often shot below par.

The visitors narrowed the gap to 59-55 with 3:43 left in the game before the Sharks pulled away to score the next eight points.

After scoring 14 first half points, Israel Nuhu was held scoreless before he tallied six of the final 10 points that included an explosive dunk from a nifty pass from Nate Bunkosky.

Junior guard Sam Ritchie equaled his career high with 20 points while Nuhu added 11 rebounds to go along with his 20 points for the victors.  

Ben Ritchie was also in double figures for the Sharks with 12 as was Bunkosky. The senior point guard finished with 12 points and equaled a career high with nine assists.

Ponte Vedra had a quick turnaround and played Suncoast High from Riviera Beach less than 24 hours after their win over Palatka.

The game was played Jan. 14 at Ed White High School’s gym in Jacksonville, which served as the neutral site for the contest.

The Sharks lost 60-55, but held their own against the Chargers, which entered the game ranked No. 2 in the state in their division and carried an impressive 13-4 record.

The Sharks’ tandem of Ritchies led the effort as Sam Ritchie and Ben Ritchie both finished with a game-high 18 points apiece.

They combined for six made shots from long range, including Ben Ritchie draining all four of his attempts for a perfect night from bonus land.

Bunkosky orchestrated the Sharks’ offense beautifully with 10 assists in the game, as the offense consistently funneled through him.      

Meanwhile, the Nease Panthers earned a significant 56-46 victory against rival St. Augustine at home Jan. 13.

The win over the Yellow Jackets ended what was a wild week for the Panthers, as they split the two games they played after narrowly losing in a thriller to St. Joseph Academy 60-57 in overtime on the road.  

The Panthers found themselves trailing 34-21 heading into the fourth quarter, but stormed back thanks to a torrid stretch of scoring that resulted in the Panthers outscoring the Flashes 25-12 in the final frame to force overtime.

Ponte Vedra Sharks, Nease Panthers, boys basketball