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Second half surge keeps Sharks’ unbeaten streak alive

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Anybody in Hernando County knows the legacy and brutal history between the Springstead Eagles and the Nature Coast Sharks. Since NCT’s inception in August of 2003, the California Street and Mariner Boulevard-located schools have clashed with each other in all aspects, almost like a Romeo and Juliet play in real life. And with these kind of knockdown, drag-out rivalries, one can imagine they’re usually very close, since neither squad wants to lose.

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And that was the case on the basketball court- Tuesday night Dec. 18  in ‘The Stead.’

After a subpar first half by both sides (more to come below), the Sharks exploded in the third quarter to gain a decisive lead, which they held onto against Springstead, 57-47. The win ensures NCT’s undefeated streak stays alive, if not almost being lost at the hands of their mortal enemy. Rebounding totals were very close between the two squads, with the Sharks finishing with a 31-28 advantage at the final buzzer.

“Every time we play them (Springstead), we know we’re getting a tough game”, explained Sharks head coach Dave Pisarcik afterwards. “Whether it’s at our house or theirs, we know the crowd is going to be electric. We’re fortunate to have gotten the win, but we didn’t play as well as I would’ve wanted.”

For the Sharks as a unit, they shot 50% from the field (19 of 38), 25% from distance (3 of 12), and 71% from the line (10 of 14). Once again, the Sharks were led by dominant junior center Orien Adams, who scored 24 points and added 15 rebounds. He was assisted by senior guard Robert Gomez and junior forward Cai Teague, who each scored 13 points.

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On Springstead’s side, the Eagles shot 39% from the field (17 of 44), a dismal 11% from distance (2 of 18), and 54% from the line (7 of 13). The Eagles were led once again by the dynamic duo of brothers Sincere and Unique Torain, who combined for 29 of the home team’s final score (Sincere: 12 points; Unique: a game-high 29).

The first quarter of this contest went about as perfect as many fans and players want a rivalry game to go: with a small 12-9 advantage in favor of NCT separating the two combatants. However, in the second quarter, something just wasn’t there on either side. Both schools together combined for six points (all free throws) and couldn’t stop giving the ball back to the other side, almost like they were playing a game of ‘Hot Potato.’

Both sides were crystal clear when saying it wasn’t a lack of execution on their parts. “Both teams were playing extremely hard, which is a great indication of this rivalry,” explained Eagles head coach Matt McGarry. “Sometimes, there’s sloppy games like that, especially with the talent each squad has, but I don’t think it was a lack of execution; rather, it was some early season nerves on both ends.”

Following the halftime intermission, whatever was said by Pisarcik in the visitor’s locker room apparently paid dividends, because they came out with more intensity than Springstead. Adams threw down a massive dunk, the Sharks raced out to a big lead, and Springstead couldn’t keep up. That said, one thing was clear about this contest when it was done: these two schools still have some of the best high school talent in the county, and maybe even the North Suncoast. It just makes the rematch on Jan. 29, 2019 from the Shark Tank even more enticing to attend.

For Nature Coast and Springstead, both schools have Christmas tournaments- and both tourneys see some of the premier talent in the state and country come out for a three-day competition. When regarding the “country” moniker, this is because in NCT’s tournament, they have a school which was in the “Fab 50” for high school basketball in the Midwest recently playing this year in the “A” bracket, Wesley Christian, so on paper they appear to be the heavy favorite. However, the Sharks have a couple of loose ends to iron out first, as they have two games on Friday against Central and Saturday against Academy at the Lakes before they can focus on their tourney. Springstead, meanwhile, is now on a well-deserved R&R break for practicing and celebrating the holidays with their loved ones before ringing in 2019 with their own tournament.

NCT CHRISTMAS TOURNAMENT SLATED TO BEGIN ON 12/27 AND RUN THROUGH 12/29

SHS HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT SLATED TO BEGIN ON 1/1/2019 AND RUN THROUGH 1/3/2019

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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