NORTH PORT — Katelynn Hall scored 30 points as North Port overcame a 12 point third quarter deficit and finally put away Imagine School in overtime, 65-59, Thursday night.
The Bobcats trailed 49-37 near the end of the third quarter when North Port coach Dale Huffman called a timeout. North Port then scored the final three baskets of the third quarter and the first three of the fourth period to erase the deficit entirely.
“We just told them that they weren’t playing with the defensive intensity they needed to win the game,” Huffman said.
“They were playing too far off and letting Imagine do what they wanted to do and I told them ‘You have to stop that.’ We went with the one stop, one basket for us speech. One thing at at time. They did what they needed to do.”
North Port was playing without leading scorer Emani Jefferson, who missed the game with an ankle injury.
“We started off the first half really slow without Emani obviously,” Hall said.
“That adjustment of the defensive end really is a struggle because that’s what gets our transition for offensive points. So that was a really big change for us in that first half, but after halftime we picked up our defensive intensity and that’s where we started getting our points.”
Hall tied the game at 49-49 with 6:30 to go with a layup, and Tracey nelson gave North Port the lead with a free throw with 4:57 left. The Sharks briefly retook the lead at 52-51 before a basket and free throw by Janae Dennard with 2:33 put the Bobcats back in front. After Hall made one of two foul shots with 39 seconds left, North Port had a seemingly comfortable four point lead.
But two free throws by Karessa Christie with 12 seconds left made it 57-55, then a steal and two foul shots by Katie Klein tied the game at 57-57 with two seconds remaining.
After a missed layup at the buzzer sent the game into overtime, the Bobcats took over as freshman Yani Hall made the first bucket of the extra period, then Katelynn Hall’s three-point play with 1:35 remaining gave North Port a 63-59 lead. Katelynn Hall’s two free throws with 37 second to play finally iced it for the Bobcats, as the Sharks clearly ran out of gas in the extra period.
“I blew the layup at the end but a lot was going on,” Katelynn Hall said, “We pulled it out in the end though.”
Hall’s 30 points were a season high, and the senior scored her 1500th career point in the first quarter on Senior Night.
“That means a lot,” Hall said. “I put in a lot of good work but I couldn’t do it without my teammates obviously so I give them a lot of credit as well.”
“We stepped up in overtime and got it done,” Huffman said.
“What was also in our favor is Imagine doesn’t have a deep bench. They didn’t have enough bodies and they started collecting the fouls. But I was just happy we got the win. We didn’t find out about Jefferson’s ankle until about 10:30 last night so we had no time to prep for a game without her. So I was real glad to just get out of here with the ‘W’.”
Izzy Faulkner led the Sharks with 20 points while Klein added 13.
North Port improved to 17-8 on the season while the Sharks fell to 14-9 with district tournaments looming next week for both teams.
NORTH PORT 65, IMAGINE SCHOOL 59 (OT)
IMAGINE 16. 15. 18. 8. 2. — 59
NORTH PORT. 18. 11. 14. 14. 8. — 65
IMAGINE: Faulkner 20, Klein 13, Woods 12, Andrade 9, Karessa Christie 3, Kaylee Christie 2. Totals: 20(3), 16-23, 59
NORTH PORT: K. Hall 30, Dennard 8, Nelson 6, Ortiz 6, Nazario 5, Y. Hall 5, Pelton 3, Hand 2. Totals: 22(3), 18-30 65