Offseason? What offseason?
Area basketball teams are gaining momentum in the offseason, putting in work in tournaments. Nearly every weekend teams are traveling to play in shootouts and gain experience for next season.
For a few local teams, this past weekend was a jolt of momentum as we move deeper into the summer.
North Port and Port Charlotte’s boys teams played in the Lehigh Summer Shootout and each won their brackets.
North Port beat Estero twice as well as South Fort Myers and both Ida Baker teams. After leading the entire game, the Bobcats fell 55-52 to Riverdale and lost a nail bitter to Lehigh, which reached the Final Four last year.
North Port coach Ryan Power said each rep the team can get in these situations is crucial.
“We only return one player from our rotation last year, so being competitive in every single game this weekend with a chance to win each of them, showed that we are moving in the right direction as a team,” he said.
Port Charlotte defended its Summer Shootout title after winning the tournament last year. The Pirates lost all five starters, but have filled out the roster with standouts from the JV team that went 22-1 last year.
Port Charlotte went 7-2 in the other bracket, beating South Fort Myers 78-36, Estero 66-46, Ida Baker 82-50, North Port 48-37 and won the championship by beating Evangelical Christian 53-47, Dunbar 64-51 and previously undefeated Riverdale 62-54. The Pirates only losses were to Lehigh and Riverdale.
Port Charlotte will play at a USF tournament this weekend.
The Pirates are coming off an undefeated 23-0 regular season and a season that came a few points away from the Final Four.
They will look to lean on their few returning varsity players.
“(Young guys played) solid,” Port Charlotte coach Kip Rhoten said. “Gerald Robinson, Ty Platt and Shawn Lefresne, all juniors, played well. Logan Clausner and Alex Perry provided good minutes and are all picking up the defensive principles.”
Charlotte High’s girls team also played over the weekend and finished in second place in the gold division at The University of Tampa Basketball Camp.
The Lady Tarpons went 21-7 last year and won the first district title in 16 years on their way to the Elite 8.