Boys Basketball Jumps to 5-1
The Ponte Vedra high school boys’ basketball team had another successful week of games. First, the Sharks took on the Fletcher Senators, winning with a score of 64-44, on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Then, they played in a two-game tournament at Windemere Prep. The Sharks won their first game of that tournament with ease, 66-24 over the Poinciana Eagles on Friday, Dec. 9. Their next game was not so easy. Although they battled hard, the Sharks had their first loss to the Tampa Catholic Crusaders on Saturday, Dec. 10, with a score of 59-75. Overall, the Sharks are now 5-1, still an impressive record, and they plan to bounce back in games to come.
The game against the Senators started off slower than the Sharks expected. At the end of the first quarter, the Sharks were losing 11-15. However, head coach Ben Wilson adjusted quickly for the Sharks, and they regained the lead by halftime, 31-21. The Sharks only allowed six points in the second quarter, showing their ability to step up on defense when they needed to. The Sharks continued to put pressure on the Senators, and only allowed eight points in the third quarter. With their success on defense, the Sharks easily handled the rest of the game. One key to winning this game defensively was the Sharks’ 20 steals compared to the Senators’ nine. This allowed for lots of transition buckets for the Sharks. However, the game wasn’t all defense. Like many other games, the Sharks put up a high number of points. Leading all scorers was senior, Nathan Bunkosky with 17. He had a 75 percent completion for field goals, the highest on the team during this game. His ability to handle the ball makes him a great point guard and all around leader for this team. Following Bunkosky were seniors, Ben Ritchie, with 16, and Israel Nuhu, with 14. Following their leadership, the Sharks handled the Senators, and secured the win.
The next game was against the Eagles. In contrast to the last game, the Sharks started off ahead right away. The first quarter was low scoring though, 16-8. The Sharks continued to play their impressive defense and did not let the Eagles score over ten points in any quarter. In fact, in the third quarter, the Eagles were only allowed one basket. This stat alone will show teams the power of the Sharks defense. The Sharks continued to turn up the heat on offense with another high scoring game. The leading scorer of this game was junior, Sam Ritchie, who had 14 points, 12 of those being three-pointers. He shot 57 percent from the three-point arc, showing his ability to shoot the ball, in addition to the mid-range skill he has shown in other recent games. He was followed by Ben Ritchie with 12 points, and Bunkosky and Nuhu each with 10. Many of the Sharks’ players contributed to the win, and their ability to share the ball will make them difficult to play against. This brought the Sharks’ record to 5-0.
The Sharks’ last game of the tournament unfortunately had a different outcome. But, the loss to the Crusaders did not come without a fight. In the first quarter, the two teams battled, and it was close the entire time. At the end of that quarter, the Sharks were only down 15-19. But, in the second quarter, the Crusaders pulled away. The Sharks had a hard time defending the Crusaders’ top players, including senior, Eddrin Bronson and junior, Karter Knox, who is rated top five in the class of 2024. The halftime score was 36-25, in favor of the Crusaders. The second half started off strong for the Sharks, and they outscored the Crusaders this quarter. Unfortunately, this was not enough to make the comeback giving the Crusaders the win. However, the Sharks offensive performance did not go unnoticed. Even in a loss they put up 59 points. Ben Ritchie had 21 of the 59 points, leading the scorers for the Sharks. He hit two three-pointers and the rest of his points came from his ability to get in the lane. He is good at drawing contact from his defenders inside the paint, and made 5/8 free throws. He was followed by Nuhu with 13 points. He also led the team in rebounds. The Sharks actually had more rebounds overall than the Crusaders did. This is good to see, the improvement most likely needs to come from somewhere else for the Sharks.
Coach Ben Wilson detailed the loss and where the Sharks needed to improve their game. He explained that “We need to limit our self-inflicted turnovers, attack the basket first instead of settling for threes so much, and rebound better.” These are all key points of improvements for the Sharks, and will probably be focuses in their practices to come. Coach Wilson also touched on the challenges for their team this season. “We have to keep improving the little things: turnovers, free throws, rebounding, etc.” But, the Sharks have the ability to overcome these challenges. “We have some skilled, tough, unselfish guys on this team. Holding each other accountable and staying together. This season is a long journey-stay the course,” said Coach Wilson. He is confident in his team’s ability to be successful. One loss does not make the Sharks a bad team. They still lead their district and 5-1 is still an impressive record. Their next game is against the Tocoi Creek Toros on Dec. 13. Hopefully the Sharks c