PUNTA GORDA – Ahmad Johnson was determined to make senior night a night to remember.
Johnson scored a career-high 36 points as the Charlotte High School boys basketball team overcame some early nerves and surged to a 68-53 victory over area power Fort Myers in the final regular season home game for the Tarpons.
Credit Charlotte for not scheduling a cupcake on senior night, and it got a run for its money, falling behind by double digits early before rallying and pulling away late with Johnson carrying the load.
“I wanted to get us back in the game. We weren’t playing aggressive enough so I had to take over and get my team hyped up,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t trying to force much, just trying to play my game.”
The emotion of senior night can be both a blessing and a curse, and in the first five minutes it was a curse for Charlotte (18-6) as the Green Wave used a 12-0 run to take a 17-6 lead.
The Tarpons settled down and Johnson took the game in his hands, scoring nine points to bring Charlotte to within 21-20 after one quarter.
After that fast start, the game settled down, but Johnson was far from finished as he scored seven more to combat a hot shooting first half from Fort Myers’ Josh Gergley, who scored all 13 of his points in the first half. Charlotte led 34-31 at the half.
Fort Myers (20-5) hung tough in the third as Michael Roberts and the Green Wave got hot from behind the arc (they hit 10 three-pointers on the night) to stay within four after three quarters.
But Charlotte pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Green Wave 16-5 as Johnson finished off a career night and the Tarpons were able to get Caden Moenning in the game, who has seen the last two seasons essentially wiped out due to knee injuries.
Charlotte coach Tom Massolio, whose team has one more tough one on the road at Immokalee Friday, said his team got caught flat-footed early.
“They blitzed us and hit some shots early, but we handled it well. Once we settled down, we did a good job using our legs and our size,” Massolio said. “Ahmad was really good. That’s what seniors should do and we need those type of performances all the way through here.”
Massolio said his group of four seniors is a special group, with all four of them with different personalities that helps bring the team together.
“They are from all different parts of the country and world and that’s what makes them so unique,” Massolio said. “They stuck it out through the tough times and I want to keep the season going for those guys.”
Senior Makai Reaves and Sophomore Tre Carroll had 10, while senior Kenny Scribner had eight. Roberts led Fort Myers with 16.
CHARLOTTE 68, FORT MYERS 53
Fort Myers 21 10 17 5 – 53
Charlotte 20 14 18 16 – 68
Fort Myers (53): Michael Roberts 16, Josh Gergley 13, McCollum 8, Riemenschneider 6, Primus 5, Luttrell 3, Merilus 2. Totals: 18(10) 7-10 53.
Charlotte (68): Ahmad Johnson 36, Makai eaves 10, Tre Carroll 10, Scribner 8, Gainer 2, Toure 2. Totals: 22(8) 16-22 68.