LEHIGH ACRES — The preliminaries are over. Now comes the serious work for the Lemon Bay Manta Rays.
Lemon Bay (8-5) closed out its holiday tournament schedule Saturday with a 56-36 victory against South Fort Myers in the Lehigh New Year’s Shootout.
The win, against the 0-12 Wolfpack, was to be expected.
Still, it took the Manta Rays a little while to get going. The score after one period was 11-8, and in the middle of the second quarter, Lemon Bay’s lead was just 18-10.
“We had to change the tempo,” Manta Rays coach Sean Huber said. “We play a lot better when we play faster. At the halfltime, I said, ‘Doesn’t this feel slow?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah.’
“More energy, and things get going faster, things go our way better.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Lemon Bay scored more points in the third period (24) than the entire first half (23).
Part of the problem was that center Caleb Geisendorfer, the key to Lemon Bay’s attack, couldn’t hit from the field in the first two quarters. All five of his first-half points came at the free-throw line.
“He struggled,” Huber said. “He’s struggled in the last couple of games. We made it a point to try and feed him and try to get him spots. We started the third quarter with him in his favorite spot. He scored. Once that went in, he got going.”
Geisendorfer scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in the third quarter, then took a seat before the period ended.
With a solid lead, Huber made sure other players got some valuable minutes in the later stages of the game.
“We have the big part of our schedule coming up,” Huber said. “Our schedule doesn’t get easier. It gets harder as things go on. We’ll go back and watch the film and try and find things we need to improve on, things we need to do a little better job on.
“We’re getting the shots we want. We just need to make more of them. When the shots are wide open, they’ve got to go down.”
Geisendorfer also had 12 rebounds for Lemon Bay. Martell Yale scored 12 for the Manta Rays. After a winnable District 7A-10 game Tuesday at home with Island Coast, things start getting tough. There’s a home game Friday against Charlotte, and a trip to Port Charlotte comes up later this month. Outside the district, there’s a game with Fort Myers in the Wally Keller Classic.
It’s been something of a rebuilding season at Lemon Bay, with the key players from last year’s district championship team having graduated.
“I do have seven seniors on the team, and some of them do have some pretty good experience, but they haven’t been through as many wars as the guys had in the past,” Huber said. “So every time we play, no matter who we play, it’s a learning experience. Try to get better every week, and look forward to February.”
February? That’s tournament time.
SOUTH FORT MYERS 8 5 16 7 — 36
11 12 24 9 — 56
3-pointers: SFM 5 (McClinton 3, Keller 2), LB 2 (Harvey, Martinez).
South Fort Myers (36): Wilson 2, Tyler 4, McClinton 9, Keller 8, Julian Durham 11, Bounds 2. Totals: 13 (5) 3-11 36.
Lemon Bay (56): Morrill 6, Martell Yale 12, Fleming 7, Caleb Gelsendorfer 18, Harvey 5, Kriessler 2, Hedges 2, Martinez 3, Patel 1. Totals: 21 (2) 12-16 56.