From the first quarter, it was clear that the Venice boys basketball team wasn’t in rhythm on Friday night against Sarasota.

The Indians (3-11) failed to score a basket in the opening quarter as they dug themselves into a quick hole. Though they battled up until the final whistle, Venice couldn’t come back from that opening deficit in a 59-46 loss to the Sailors at the TeePee.

“This right here is a hard loss. This one was tough,” Venice coach John Flynn said. “(Sarasota) is not a good basketball team. Last year, it was a 25-point game last time we played them.”

Indians Christian Rodriguez, Nick Giacolone and Cyrus Lusk were forced to sit out Friday night’s game as they were suspended due to technical fouls in this past week’s games. Halfway through the game, guard Vince Marino joined them in the stands as he picked up a technical foul as well.

With about half of their regular players unavailable, the Indians were never able to get their offense into a flow.

Despite this, Venice hung within 10 points of Sarasota for nearly the entire night, and the shooting of guard Adam Gebel almost gave his team enough to come back.

The senior scored nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as his three 3-pointers down the stretch brought the Indians to within eight points midway through the frame.

But with only Gebel making consistent shots, it didn’t take too long for the Sailors to pull away for good.

Sarasota (3-8) held Venice to no baskets in the opening quarter, but led just 10-4 as the Indians’ zone defense gave the Sailors trouble getting open looks. The second quarter was much of the same for both teams, as a 22-15 halftime Sailors’ lead made it look like the game would be a defensive battle.

However, Sarasota’s offense finally woke up in the second half.

An improved inside game and 7-for-7 shooting from the free-throw lead gave the Sailors some breathing room heading into the final quarter.

With four Indians missing, junior varsity call-up Tristan Burroughs and role player Spencer Green gave all they had as Venice attempted its comeback, fighting for every loose ball and rebound.

Using a full-court press and some inspired defense, the Indians pulled within eight points at 41-33 before the game ultimately slipped away.

For Venice, Friday night’s game couldn’t have happened at a much more inconvenient time — on the back end of a back-to-back with four key players missing.

“(Thursday night) we played as hard as we could,” Flynn said. “We played really good (against Port Charlotte). They can’t duplicate that two nights in a row.

“I mean if you can’t get up for a Friday night game in your gym against Sarasota, what will you get up for? I don’t know what to say. I just know I have guys in the stands who should be playing.”

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