For the first few minutes of the Venice boys basketball team’s game against Braden River, the Indians looked to be in total control.
Leading 9-0 and playing lockdown defense, Venice held its lead through the first quarter. But the Indians couldn’t stay in front as Pirates player Lonnie Brown exploded for 30 points in a 71-48 Pirates win at Braden River High School.
With the loss, Venice finishes district play at 4-6 and wraps up the No. 4 seed for the district tournament, while Braden River finishes at 6-3 and will be either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed.
“When you’re struggling and you’re not the best team in your district, but you’re still going for wins, you have to execute everything,” Venice coach John Flynn said. “We get to points where it looks very good, and then we get to points where it doesn’t look good at all.”
Despite making just two baskets in the second quarter, and taking nearly six minutes to make the first, Venice trailed only 27-23 at halftime and was within range of retaking the lead thanks to a 3-pointer by Adam Gebel just before halftime.
However, the third quarter would be nothing short of a disaster for Venice.
The Indians again took almost a full six minutes to sink their first basket of the quarter and had trouble stopping Brown in the post.
The senior forward grabbed six of his nine rebounds and scored 14 of his 30 points in the third quarter alone, using offensive rebounds to get fouled or make a put-back layup.
“How many second and third opportunities did we give him under the hoop?” Flynn said. “We haven’t rebounded the ball well at all.”
By the time Brown was finished putting on a show in the third quarter, his team held a 50-32 lead and was in full control.
However, the game wasn’t a total loss for the Indians as newly called-up guard Jayshon Platt was able to score his first point as a varsity player when he swished the first of two free throws with 2:25 to go in the game.
Venice will play one more regular season game — a Senior Night game at home on Monday against Sarasota Military Academy — before gearing up for the district tournament.
“If we won this game, we would have been the three seed,” Flynn said. “I don’t know what’s going on with Palmetto and Sarasota, but regardless, we should have come in here and handled our business without worrying what other people are doing.”