The Venice boys basketball team found success in spurts on Friday evening, but the Indians are still working on turning those spurts into wins.

Venice (2-7) went back-and-forth with Wiregrass Ranch (6-3) for most of the game in the Ryon D. Provencher Holiday Shootout at Lemon Bay High School, but the Indians let the Bulls pull away in the final quarter in a 71-61 loss.

“I don’t know how to stop it,” Venice head coach John Flynn said of the Indians’ recent struggles. “It’s one of those deals where you work them really hard and you’re trying to do the right stuff. We’re running good stuff and getting good looks.

“We kind of go on a run, but then we throw the ball away or we do something stupid. I really don’t know what it is. It’s certainly not for a lack of work, I can tell you that.”

It was evident that both teams were impacted by winter break out of the gates as both teams combined for 10 foul shots in the opening 1:30.

However, once the second quarter began, both sides found a bit of rhythm. Cyrus Lusk and Christian Rodriguez kept the Indians neck-and-neck with the Bulls with 12 combined points in the second quarter.

A buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Nick Giacolone tied Venice and Wiregrass Ranch at 33-33 going into halftime, but the Indians struggled to match the Bulls’ shooting down the stretch.

When it was all said and done, the Bulls rained down 11 3-pointers, scoring nearly half of their points from the perimeter.

As far as Flynn was concerned, that was a product of his team getting in its own way.

“When things aren’t going great, that’s what happens. Guys go off on you,” Flynn said of the Bulls’ 3-point shooting. “When you’re playing bad, that’s what happens. The same thing happened in the North Port game. The kid who scored 30 on us wasn’t even on the scouting report.”

Chason Rockymore was a force inside once again for Venice, leading the team with 18 points and 11 rebounds. However, only three of those 18 points came in the first half, as it took a while for the Indians to find their groove on offense.

But players such as Rodriguez (11 points) and Giacolone (10 points, nine rebounds) stepped up to stay within reach of the Bulls.

Wiregrass didn’t truly pull away until the fourth quarter.

Bulls players Elijah Howell (22 points) and Brian Parker (15 points) took over in the final eight minutes, combining to score 13 points while playing lockdown defense on the Indians.

Venice could only score one bucket – a 3-pointer by Rockymore – in the first 3:30 of the final quarter. The offensive drought put the Indians in a deep hole as the Bulls stretched their lead to double digits.

Though Rockymore chipped in eight more points over the final 4:30, it was too little and too late for much hope of a comeback.

“We slowed the game down today. We played a lot better,” Flynn said. “But we have players who don’t have an understanding of the clock and the score. You name it, it’s sort of how it’s been. We’ve just gotta keep working at it.”

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