Without a doubt the excitement and pride of Apalachicola Sharks basketball was once again evident inside the former Apalachicola High School gym aka ‘The Matchbox’, now operated under a private-public agreement and serving as the City of Apalachicola’s Youth/Community Center.
The excitement was surrounding a basketball tournament held yesterday that pitting the Apalachicola Sharks 11U, 14U and 17U boys’ basketball teams against the visiting Port St. Joe summer league teams that saw the Sharks split the tournament with Port St. Joe 4 games to 2.
The first game of the six-game contest was a faceoff between the Apalachicola Sharks 11U team coached by J.T. Escobar, a University of Mississippi basketball recruit from Tallahassee against their Port St. Joe counterparts, coached by Ray Bailey, a former Port St. Joe High School three sports standout.
The Sharks led throughout the first game finishing the half 16-12, and went on to win the contest by a comfortable 9 point margin 30-21. However, the Sharks had no such luck the second time around. Port St. Joe came out fired up to finish the half 15-7 and winning the game by a score of 23-18 to split the 11U bracket with Apalach 1-1. The highlight of the game was a near buzzer three point attempt to narrow the contest by Jeremiah Steven that rung the cylinder and bounced out.
In 14U action the Sharks were led by Head Coach Tyron Wynn with Ray Bailey again taking the helm for Port St. Joe. Wynn led the Sharks to two victories by leading 19-12 at halftime during the first game and finishing the contest by pacing Port St. Joe 36-20. Wynn went on to repeat the magic during the second game, leading at the half 18-14 and finishing 41-29 to remain undefeated in the 14U bracket.
The Apalach 17U team was led by Head Coach Mackenzie Williams, who also doubles as the Franklin County Seahawks boys’ varsity basketball team head coach. The Port St. Joe’s 17U team was again led by the multi-talented Ray Bailey.
The first game saw a focused Sharks team take a commanding lead of 20-13 against Port St. Joe at the end of the first half; however on a 9-2 run during the opening second half Port St. Joe knotted the game 22-22 at the 11:49 mark. With 5:20 left to play, Port St. Joe went into a man-to-man defense, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Sharks attack or Tyler Howard’s slam dunk at the 1:11 mark that propelled the Apalach team into a 45-27 victory.
However, a much more determined Port St. Joe 17U team took to the court during the second game. The Apalachicola Sharks seemed as if they were swimming on dry land during most of the contest. Port St. Joe led at the end of the half 26-13 and opened up the second half in another man-to-man defense, this time they slowed the tempo on offense and went on to hand a lackluster Apalach a 64-34 loss to knot the 17U bracket 1-1.