BROOKSVILLE — Nature Coast stacked the field of its home tournament this weekend in hopes gaining valuable experience against some solid programs, but the Sharks still planned to leave the Nature Coast Christmas Invitational with the championship trophy.
Somebody forgot to tell Tarpon Springs.
The Spongers squeaked past the Sharks 53-50 on Monday to take the crown.
Scotty James (18 points, 15 rebounds) was named tournament MVP for Tarpon Springs (14-2). The junior forward averaged an event-high 16.7 rebounds over three games.
Nature Coast (12-2) had the ball with less than 10 seconds left but James blocked a 3-point attempt.
Teammate Trai Halton had 15 points and was also named to the All-Tournament team.
"We obviously wanted to win this one," Nature Coast coach David Pisarcik said, "but we were definitely battle-tested. None of the games we played (this weekend) were blowouts, so this will help our guys in the long run."
Senior guard Carlos Clemente, who had career highs in points for Nature Coast in his previous two games, had eight points Monday after averaging 31 in his previous two tournament games.
"(Sunday) we talked about (guarding Clemente) quite a bit," Tarpon Springs coach Jerry Woodka said. "If he doesn't catch the ball, he doesn't score. If he doesn't score, they have a lot of problems scoring."
Guard Jordan Burkes led the Sharks with 19 points.
Brooks-DeBartolo (10-4) beat Orlando Jones 65-61 for third place as Jarred Anderson, also all-tournament, had 19 points and six steals. Steinbrenner (5-10) defeated Springstead (9-5) for fifth place, 79-66, and for seventh place Jefferson (14-5) won 85-24 over Weeki Wachee (0-13).