WESLEY CHAPEL — The mood was somber for the Wesley Chapel High boys basketball team Friday night after losing its first game of the season, 47-43 to Brooksville Nature Coast.
Wesley Chapel coach Doug Greseth, after speaking to his team, quickly moved into the office area in the back area of the school’s gymnasium.
Players walked off knowing they just lost the first of two meetings with a Class 5A-District 7 rival and the Sharks were able to do it exclusively via second-, third- and fourth opportunity points.
“It was frustrating,” Wesley Chapel center Marcus Hayne said about the second-chance points. “We weren’t boxing out. We weren’t closing out our men like we were supposed to. That’s what gave them the second shots and the second looks.”
Brooksville Nature Coast (6-0) held a near-dominating 35-23 edge on the boards and numerous times throughout the contest was able to follow missed shots with extra-shot opportunities.
For much of the first half, Nature Coast never led by more than three points, but just before intermission went on a quick 6-0 run to hold a 27-18 halftime lead.
The Sharks came out in the third quarter and were able to push their lead to double digits and at one point led by as many as 12.
Wesley Chapel (8-1), though, slowly chipped away at Nature Coast’s 12-point lead and was able to tie it at 41 on a layup by guard Riyan McCrary, his only points of the contest, with 2:48 left in the game.
The Sharks got a huge 3-pointer from Carlos Clemente (13 points) at the 1:57 mark and that proved to be vital as Nature Coast hit its free throws down the stretch.
“Anytime you play a good team like Wesley Chapel, no lead is really safe,” Nature Coast coach David Pisarcik said. “I knew (Wesley Chapel) was going to make a run. The waning seconds, Carlos hits that big three and that was just a relief right there.”