One of the more difficult challenges for Venice High boys basketball coach John Flynn recently is having to form a team after a large departure of seniors from the previous year.
On Monday night — senior night — there was another reminder that Flynn will have to find a way to make due next year without a strong group of the graduated.
When the playoffs conclude, the Indians will have lost 15 players to graduation since the 2017-18 season — nine last year and six in 2019.
In the final regular-season game at the TeePee, the seniors shone brightly as Venice (10-16) won in convincing fashion, 75-34, over the Sarasota Military Academy Eagles (4-20). All the Venice seniors scored.
Leading the way were Brett Keyso (18 points), Chason Rockymore (16) and Adam Gebel (15). Spencer Green added six, Chip Barber five and Nick Giacolone four.
“A good senior night. I’m a big senior guy. I always respect my seniors,” said Flynn. “I wanted to start all seniors and I wanted to finish the game with all seniors. They all played well and they’re going to be missed.”
Venice came out of the box strongly, with Keyso the spark-plug during the first half. He tallied 17 of his 18 points over the first 16 minutes. But the initial spark came from Green, who opened the game with a layup and a 3-pointer. With a dunk by Rockymore in between, the Indians started with a 7-0 run in the first 1:14.
Though the Eagles trailed by as many as 10 in the first quarter, they managed to get within a field goal midway through the second stanza. In a matter of minutes, however, the Indians blew the game open.
From a 20-18 lead with 4:51 left in the half, Venice exploded for 18 straight points to finish the second quarter. Freshman Jayshon Platt began the onslaught with a trey. He was followed 25 seconds later when Gebel shook the strings from downtown. Later in the quarter, Keyso completed a three-point play after being fouled throwing down a jam.
“A couple of times we’ve been on the bad end of games like this, so it’s nice to be on the good side of this one,” said Gebel who scored all of his points from behind the arc. “This was a lot of fun, and we’re going to miss playing with these guys.”
Sarasota Military sank some early buckets to open the second quarter but were answered by a Rockymore layup. Moments later, Barber swished a 3-pointer from deep in the right corner to retake the momentum.
As Keyso did much of the heavy lifting in the opening half, Rockymore was most conspicuous in the second. He scored 11 of his 16 points over the final 16 minutes. By the end of the third quarter, Venice had the Eagles doubled up, 60-30.
“It’s always nice to get a win, especially on senior night in front of the home crowd,” said Rockymore. “Coming up as a sophomore on JV, and then on varsity, I’ve really grown as a player. I’m really going to miss it.”
Fittingly, it was a senior who scored the final points for Venice. Gebel drained his fifth 3-pointer in the final 30 seconds.
Venice will open the district tournament at home on Monday against Sarasota at 7 p.m.
The Indians split their two games with the Sailors this season, losing 59-46 on Jan. 11 and winning, 74-63, just a week later on Jan. 18.