Sometimes a coach has to adjust.
Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School boys’ basketball Coach Derek Kurnitsky has always been about man-to-man defense.
But with the talent on this roster, he said, there was a struggle with those man-to-man principles.
So over the holiday break Kurnitsky began employing more zone press and zone trap concepts into the defense and the Tiger Sharks have won seven of their last eight.
After three wins last week Port St. Joe is 12-9 overall and 7-4, in second place, in District 4-1A.
“With young guys sometimes it takes awhile to get accustomed to varsity basketball,” Kurnitsky said. “When we went to more of a zone on defense, the kids really picked it up. We have really improved.
“As coaches we can be stubborn. But sometimes you have to adjust to your talent. And we have really had some guys stepping up and playing good basketball.”
Last week included a streak of district victories, as Port St. Joe took down Liberty County 71-41, Blountstown 50-36 and Franklin County 70-37.
Notable among those box scores are the number of periods – six out of 12 – during which the Tiger Sharks held opponents to single digits.
“Since Christmas we have been playing zone and it has really shown,” Kurnitsky said. “We are playing good defense right now. And we are also starting to get more guys scoring.”
The Tiger Sharks had six players score nine or more points in last Tuesday’s blowout of Liberty County.
Cory Calloway led the way with 19 but Chad Quinn, Marcel Johnson and Marquez Johnson each had 10 points and Ramello Zaccaro and Natron Lee had nine apiece.
The Tiger Sharks were up 32-20 after holding Liberty County to seven points in the second quarter and coasted.
Luke Galloway and Jak Riley each added two points.
Port St. Joe held Blountstown to single digits in each of the first three periods while building a 42-23 lead before the Tigers made some inroads in the final period.
Again, balance defined the offense as Calloway had 19, Lee 12, Marcel Johnson 10, Zaccaro six, Quinn three and Galloway three.
The game was played in front of a packed raucous crowd at the historic Washington Recreational Center gym.
“It was awesome,” Kurnitsky said. “People were standing everywhere, we had to put chairs on the stage. It was just a fun night, a great day.”
Franklin County, which beat Port St. Joe before Christmas, was blown out by a first quarter in which the Seahawks managed just six points and more crucially a third quarter during which they scored just five points.
Calloway led Port St. Joe with 24 points and Quinn (12), Marcel Johnson (11) and Lee (10) were also in double figures. Zaccaro had six, Riley four, Marquez Johnson and Luke Galloway two apiece.
The Tiger Sharks are at Bozeman on Friday and Bay High on Saturday.