Twenty three teams tried and 23 failed.
Port Charlotte’s road to perfection began with a three-point win over DeSoto County in the season’s opening game. It was the smallest winning margin of the season and one of only two times a team came within five points.
Fittingly, the Pirates left no doubt on Thursday as they captured the school’s only perfect regular season with a dominant 68-44 win over that same team.
Perfection wasn’t something talked about much during the season and definitely wasn’t the goal when this run started, but as the final game approached, the team knew they were on the verge of something historic.
“It feels great doing something that no one else has done before,” senior Tyler Perry said. “All that hard work paid off. It was never a goal, I promise you. It was just take it one game at a time and then we won that last game and it kind of came up like we could do something. We wanted to finish out strong and finish undefeated.”
From the opening tip the Pirates were amped. On the Bulldogs’ first possession, Tyler Perry got a steal and drove down the floor for an emphatic dunk to open the scoring.
The quarter was capped off with a special moment for senior Marcus Telefort, who hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer before being mobbed by his teammates at midcourt on senior night.
“I passed him the ball and I was like, ‘Hit that, hit that,’” Perry said. “He shot it and I went nuts.”
The defense on both sides ramped up in the second quarter with both teams combining for just 11 points. But Port Charlotte would go an another run.
A 4-point play by Perry pushed it to 40-17 with 5:30 left in the third quarter. The ability to not let the Bulldogs’ defense affect their scoring was the biggest difference from the first meeting.
“We watched tape today from our first game and the seniors were like, ‘God we weren’t very good then,’” Port Charlotte coach Kip Rhoten said.
“It wasn’t that they weren’t very good, they just didn’t understand principles that we were trying to do. As time went on we just kept doing the same thing every day. Now they understand.”
Port Charlotte was able to close out the game at the free-throw line, as they’ve done throughout the season. As a team, the Pirates went 20-24 from the line compared to DeSoto’s 8 of 12.
Perry led in scoring with 14 followed by Brandon Gainey with 13. Nate Maybell led DeSoto with 10.
But tonight wasn’t all about varsity. Prior to the varsity program securing their 23-win season, the JV team finished their season with a 22-1 record.
Their only loss came in overtime against Charlotte. That’s a combined record of 55-1 for the program.
Now the Pirates have to resettle their expectations as district play opens next week.
As the top seed in District 7A-10, they earn a bye and will play the winner of Cape Coral and Ida Baker at home on Wednesday.
“It’s not over yet,” senior Alex Romero said. “Districts, Regionals and then we want to go on to States. We can’t stop now.”
PORT CHARLOTTE 68, DESOTO 44
PC 24 8 21 15 — 68
DC 10 3 18 13 — 44
PC: Perry (14), Gainey (13), Romero (12), Fleurissant (8), Adderly (6)
DC: Maybell (10), Mele (9), Redden (7), Wilson (7)