Tiger Sharks edge Wakulla, North Bay Haven
The Port St. Joe boys basketball team won two of three contests this past week, improving to 2-3 on the season.
On Monday, Dec. 12, the Tiger Sharks held on for a 60-56 nailbiter over the Wakulla War Eagles.
Prior to the varsity teams taking the floor, Jayden Reese scored 14 points to lead St. Joe’s JV boys to a 48-44 win over the War Eagle JV.
When the varsity took the floor, St. Joe sprinted to a 37-23 halftime lead, but found themselves clinging to a 49-47 lead with 5:15 remaining in the game after a furious second-half Wakulla rally.
Baskets by JD Becton and LaJuan Zaccaro pushed the Tiger Shark lead to 53-47 before a War Eagle three-pointer closed the gap once again, and it appeared they would take the lead until Chance Gainer blocked a fast break layup attempt with 2:38 on the clock.
Barely a minute later with the score 55-54 in favor of St. Joe, Coach Toney Powell called time out with 1:16 remaining to set up a play, only to have Wakulla steal the ball when action resumed.
However, TJ Jenkins was able to recover possession of the ball and call timeout just before sliding out of bounds.
Taking the inbounds pass when play resumed, Zaccaro drove to the basket and drew two defenders to him just as he dished the ball to Jay Stuckey for the layup.
Not making things easy, Wakulla scored and called time out with 9.9 seconds showing on the clock, down only 57-56.
Shockingly, St. Joe turned the ball over, but Wakulla missed two consecutive layups and returned possession to the Sharks on a held ball with only 5.9 seconds remaining.
When play resumed after their final time out, Wakulla immediately fouled Eli Harris, who calmly sank both free throws to give St. Joe a 59-56 advantage.
Two seconds later, Harris returned to the line and made the final point before the game ended with the Tiger Shark victory.
TJ Jenkins led the Tiger Sharks with 16 points, followed by Zay Jenkins with 14. Zaccaro added 12, and Stuckey scored eight. Harris scored all five of his points from the charity stripe in the final 2:38 of the game, while Becton scored four, and Kellen Speights added a point.
Friday night’s contest against Blountstown started out as if the Sharks would win their second straight game, leading 20-10 after the first period and 28-23 at halftime only to have the Tigers outscore St. Joe 48-21 in the second half and win going away 71-49.
Against North Bay Haven on Saturday night, the Tiger Sharks raced to a 9-0 lead and held a 20-13 lead after the first period.
Although St. Joe led at halftime 40-31, Powell was forced to bring Zaccaro to the bench due to foul trouble in the latter part of the second quarter and the entire third period. Zaccaro had also missed half of the Blountstown game because of fouls.
With the Tiger Sharks leading 47-42 going into the final period, the Buccaneers scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to take their first lead at 48-47 with 6:50 remaining.
After two more lead changes and a tie at 51-all, St. Joe found themselves down 59-53 with 2:17 on the clock, but three free throws and a three-pointer by Zay Jenkins decreased the deficit to two points at 61-59 as the Tiger Sharks called a time out with a mere 1:12 remaining.
Zaccaro, who returned to the floor during the quarter, tied the score with a layup, but soon after was called for his fifth foul with 45 seconds left.
A traveling call returned the ball to St. Joe, who called another time out with 34 seconds. With the Bucs blanketing Zay Jenkins, TJ Jenkins drove to the basket and put up a floater that swished through the net, giving the Sharks a 63-61 lead with 14 seconds left.
After a Bay Haven miss, Harris secured the win with his rebound and St. Joe improved to 2-3 while North Bay Haven remained winless at 0-6.
Zaccaro led the Tiger Sharks with 20 points, 10 of which came in the first period. TJ Jenkins scored 16, including the game winner.
Zay Jenkins and Stuckey added nine points each, while Harris scored five. Gainer and Speights each scored two points.
Asked about the instructions given during the final Tiger Shark time out, assistant coach Jan Lowe said “with (the Bucs) guarding our best shooter Zay Jenkins, we tried to decoy him by running him to the corner and cleared that out for (TJ), who drove the middle for the game winner. That was the plan, just like (Coach Powell) drew it up.”
“All season, we have had a double-digit lead in every game, and we get in foul trouble and they come back,” he added. “It’s either a nailbiter or we get blown out, so we’ve got to fix that and we’ll be alright.”
Off until their Jan. 6 contest at Liberty County, the Tiger Sharks will “use this time to actually practice and put in more sets,” said Powell. “We only had three days of practice before we started playing games.”