PORT CHARLOTTE – Katelynn Hall scored 24 points and Emani Jefferson added 21 as the North Port High School girls basketball team routed Port Charlotte 67-36 Saturday in a non-conference game at the Pirate Cove.
The Bobcats (12-6) scored early and often against the Pirates, using their full-court press to make backcourt steals and easy lay-ups, something the Pirates were never really able to crack.
“We’re built on our man-to-man press and we try to make teams work for everything. It’s the back bone of our offense,” said North Port coach Curtis Tillman. “Katelynn has been playing well the last couple games after starting off slow. She’s been a good running mate for Emani.”
Hall was a consistent force all night, and might have had an even better night had she not made just one of eight free throw attempts on a night neither team did particularly well there.
“I was trying to get the ball down the floor on fast breaks. It was the worst free throw shooting game I’ve had, but I tried to make up for it with assists and fast break lay-ups,” Hall said.
Jefferson was all over the court. Any high-arched inbounds pass was easily smothered by her or one of her teammates, while any short inbounds had a Bobcat breathing down the neck of Pirate players, leading to steals and easy points.
The Bobcats led 22-8 after one quarter and 42-19 at the half. They forced a running clock late in the third quarter when the lead got to 35 before coasting home.
“We came out did what we wanted to do and that was to come in here and win,” Jefferson said. “We like to take the lead and use the press to slow them down.”
It wasn’t just the press that hurt Port Charlotte (10-5), it was the multitude of missed lay-ups that could have changed the trajectory of the game. The Pirates did well in transition until it came time to finish, with the few times they broke the press resulting in the same thing. It also didn’t help that Port Charlotte went 12 for 22 at the line.
Port Charlotte coach Mike Progl said the game really came down to discipline and making the easy shots, which the Pirates need to do in order to win.
“They aren’t executing what they should be executing. They know how to set up a press-breaker and they were scrambling around wondering what to do,” Progl said. “They have two really good players, but we missed 15 lay-ups. That’s 30 points. You make those shots and it’s a different ball game.”
Ameijha Jones and Alani Qualls led the Pirates with 10 points each.
NORTH PORT 67, PORT CHARLOTTE 36
North Port 22 20 14 11 – 67
Port Charlotte 8 11 7 10 – 36
North Port (67): Katelynn Hall 24, Emani Jefferson 21, Hand 6, Dennard 5, Y. Hall 4, Nazario 3, Nelson 2, Pelton 2. Totals: 26(3) 12-26 67.
Port Charlotte (36): Alani Qualls 10, Ameijha Jones 10, Henderson 5, Huggins 4, Joseph 3, Hudson 2, Taylor 2. Totals: 11(2) 12-22 36.