With several girls from both teams sick or away during the holidays, girls basketball coaches Joel Holloway and Kevin Andrade contemplated canceling Thursday night’s game between Venice and Imagine School.

Despite the absences, both coaches ultimately opted to play on and give their players some extra work on the court during Winter Break.

Though each team got out to a slow start and Imagine held just a 19-15 lead at halftime, the Sharks wasted no time building a lead in the second half and coasting to a 45-31 win at Imagine High School.

“You either cancel the game or you go and play with the girls who are healthy,” Venice coach Joel Holloway said. “So, it’s kind of the situation we’re in. It was good for them to get out and play.

“But you can see we got tired and we weren’t playing like we normally do with our press and things like that.”

In total, the Sharks were whittled down to just six players and the Indians were without Miranda Hoffer, Nathalie Bencie, Gabby LaRock, Rachel Weekes and Kiley Poole.

For Imagine, it was another game of managing foul trouble and being wary of injuries as the lone bench player was junior varsity call-up Makayla Rassbach.

It took some time for the Sharks and Indians to find much of a rhythm, as the first quarter ended with Venice holding an 8-4 lead. But guard Katie Klein began to heat up in the second quarter, scoring eight of her 17 points in that frame as the Sharks took control.

“Our captain, Kayle (Christie) wasn’t here,” Imagine coach Kevin Andrade said. “She helps the team feel more calm because when she’s playing the post, the girls are a little more relaxed. So, we were a little bit worked up and it took us a little bit to calm down. But once that happened, we were able to find our shots.”

Though the Sharks led for most of the game, they didn’t really put the Indians away until the final minutes.

Two 3-pointers from Olivia Sleight and four points from Brook DuBay in the fourth quarter helped Venice stay within a handful of points. However, three Indians turnovers down the stretch and a slew of fouls gave Imagine all it would need to pull away for good. DuBay served as a bright spot for the Indians, scoring 16 points and pulling down a game-high 18 rebounds.

“You’re not always gonna have your best players,” Holloway said. “You’re gonna have to play in times when it’s not comfortable. We always harp and preach that they need to be comfortable with uncomfortable situations in the game.

“They had their opportunity tonight, and they did not execute.”

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