SPRING HILL – The Nature Coast boys basketball team has shown early in the season that it can shoot the ball with nearly anyone in the area. When they get easy baskets off of transition and second shots, it makes the Sharks very tough to beat.
The Sharks had all facets going in the championship game of the Nature Coast Christmas Tournament on Friday, led by Robert McAfee.
The senior guard scored a career-high 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting as the Sharks defeated Alonso 74-57. It was the Sharks' second straight Christmas title.
"It was a big game coming in and I knew we had to play good as a team," McAfee said. "When I play good, the whole team plays good."
McAfee's start, who had 17 points in the first half, rubbed off on the rest of the Sharks.
The Sharks made 27-of-39 field goals (69.2 percent) in staying undefeated on the season (11-0). Sophomore Orien Teague had 12 points, while junior Robert Gomez added 10 for Nature Coast.
"We know if we stick to our fundamentals, we have a chance to win every night," said Nature Coast coach David Pisarcik. "Alonso is a good team. They're in first place in their district. We had to play well in order to beat them and we had a good performance by Mack. We needed that great performance to get us over the hump. Fortunate for us, Robert McAfee and a couple of other guys had some big games for us."
Sophomore guard Andrew Leftwich had 20 points to lead Alonso (8-3). Junior Sager Cavalier added 18 for the Ravens, who allowed the most points they have all season.
"They're an excellent team," Alonso coach Todd Price said. "If you make a mistake, they make shots. They're very, very tough offensively. We tried every defense we could throw at them."
It was a close game through the first quarter with Nature Coast leading 20-16. Then the Sharks opened the second with a 9-0 run for a 29-16 lead. The Sharks led by 12, 43-31 at the half. The Ravens couldn't get closer than nine the rest of the way.
Here are the local players who made the all-tournament team from the first bracket: Hernando's Jacob Batten, Jefferson's David Hams, Zephyrhills' Derrico Quiles, Mitchell's J.P. Watt, Alsonso's Leftwich and Cavalier, Nature Coast's Adams, Austin Rivera and tournament MVP McAfee.
Rick Brown, Times correspondent