Take the lead in battle of district unbeatens

It’s a good thing Nathan West’s wife Lindsay was due to give birth Saturday, because had she their daughter Friday, the Franklin County boys basketball coach might have missed all of Friday night’s fun.

The Seahawks’ game against Port St. Joe, before a standing room only crowd at The Nest Friday night, had all the expected things happen, lots of boisterous cheers and lusty boos, four technical fouls between the two teams, one St. Joe fan asked to leave by a referee for questioning the man’s judgment more than he cared to allow.

All the typical stuff, plus a 58-48 win that kept the Seahawks still undefeated against all four district opponents they’ve faced so far, and cast the Tiger Sharks down a notch to 3-1.

Sophomore Lamarius Martin poured in a game-high 30 points, well above his 13 points per game average, to be the only Hawk in double digits. Senior Simon Brathwaite added eight, and junior Grady Escobar seven.

After building a nine-point lead at the half, 33-22, the Seahawks kept the Tiger Sharks in check in the third quarter, and then with two minutes left in the game, junior Isaiah Decoursey’s soft floater under the basket gave the Seahawks a15-point bulge, 56-41, that had some St. Joe fans start to move towards the exists.

Sophomore Eden Brathwaite, who fouled out, and senior Alex Hardy each added four points, while Decoursey and senior Mikalin Huckeba each added two, and junior Javan Pride one.

The Seahawks shot 15 of 31 from the free throw line, a little worse than the Tiger Sharks, who were 21 of 35.

Senior Jan Lowe, who played his younger years for Franklin County, paced Sandy Quinn’s Port St. Joe squad with 18 points, with senior Kendre Gant adding 14. Senior Travis Roberson, and senior Drew Jones and junior Demarion Gray, who both fouled out, each scored four, while freshman Neshon Gadson added two and junior Jy’trel Riley one.

“First off, this was a better high school basketball atmosphere than what we have had the other night. The community did a good job coming out and supporting us,” said West. “Our guys were all hyped up. It was a good atmosphere.

“The gym sits just at 1,200 and we were just under 1,400 in there,” he said.

“I thought our guys played hard,” he said. “We didn’t make a lot of shots that we usually make.”

“Grady (Escobar) shot the ball well, I’d like to get him more touches, and Monk (Martin) played extremely hard, extremely well. His biggest concern after the game was turnovers.”

Martin finished with four turnovers, and West said that wasn’t too bad, considering he played all 32 minutes.

“He did a pretty good job at running the team,” said the coach. “I was extremely pleased with his attitude and effort.”

West said the Seahawks could have put the game away early, but managed to withstand St. Joe runs and keep them at bay.

The team committed three technical fouls but West wasn’t too concerned about it. He was left scratching his head over the total of fouls called. “Sixty-six free throw shots in a high school basketball game, that’s ridiculous,” he said.

“I don’t want my guys to get technical, I’m not going to go out there and get a technical,” he said. “Those three technical fouls were not worthy of technical fouls.

“This is a rival game, it’s a heated game, guys are going to talk,” West said. “It was a heated battle.”

West said his team gave up eight offensive rebounds and that concerned him.

“We gave them a lot of extra possessions. Down the stretch we could have done a better job at securing the rebounds and then clearing space and pushing the tempo,” he said. “We know our size and we know what our limitations are. We need all five guys to go in with the mentality they have to control the glass.

“They’re learning what it takes to win,” West said. “Teams are going to go on runs, and we need to stay the course, keep our composure and keep doing what we do.

“We had a good week of practice, two really good days back-to-back,” he said. “I’m trying to teach them some mental aspects of it. You know how to react to adversity you’re going to be a pretty good basketball team.

“We’ve still got learning to do, I was pleased with how they responded to a St. Joe run,” West said. “We’re learning how to be mentally tough.”