NORTH PORT – When you’re playing with just six kids suited up and without your head coach, you have to play smart, take your time, and stay out of foul trouble.
That’s exactly what the Community Christian boys basketball team did on the road against Imagine on Thursday in a non-district matchup.
The Mustangs got great offensive balance, putting four of its six players in double figures and getting all six to score at least 6 points as they pulled away from Imagine, 78-56.
Ethan Bray and Brandon Hill scored 19 each to lead Community Christian (11-7), who despite having two starters out and a third also in street clothes, was able to handle an inexperienced Imagine squad while staying out of foul trouble by playing within themselves.
The Mustangs were also without their head coach. Kurt Taylor, who was ill. His son, Larry, took over and was impressed by his team’s play.
“We have a pretty tough squad. We do a good job of staying patient and being solid on defense without giving up stupid fouls,” Taylor said. “When we’re patient, it creates more for us.”
Isaiah Levine added 16 and Lucas Rivera had 12 for the Mustangs, 11 of which came after halftime, as they overcame injuries from starters Rodney Anicet and Drew Carter.
“We’re a team-centered team. We don’t play for ourselves and despite the injuries we got the job done,” Bray said. “We’ve been on a roll lately and we hope to keep it going in the postseason.”
Community Christian knew when to step on the gas and when to slow it down as it powered to a 35-17 halftime lead and led by as much as 29 before allowing Imagine to make the score a little more respectable.
C.J. Morris, back after missing a week with a concussion, led Imagine (3-11) with 17 points. Zach Leslie scored all 14 of his points in the second half, long after the game was in doubt. Justin Mara, who just moved up to varsity, added 10 as the game turned into a shootout.
“They still had a lot of their key guys and they’re really good. We’re trying to build a program into something like they have,” said first-year Imagine coach Zach Moore. “As a unit, we’re still trying to figure it out and play better together.”