The Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School girls’ basketball team that reached the state Class 1A title game last year is not the same team opening this year’s campaign.
After the loss of four key seniors, some say Coach Kenny Parker and the Lady Tiger Sharks are rebuilding.
Parker, though, thinks by season’s end his team has a chance to get back to Lakeland. The Lady Tiger Sharks will be led by seniors Te-Te Croom, in her second season, and Quinci Elphinstone, who did not play last year.
Other players to watch are ninth-grader Mimi Larry and two eight-graders, Jae Lenox (who had a game high 24 in the state semifinal last year versus Paxton), and Mari Johnson who has much improved and is a force on the boards.
South Walton 44, Port St. Joe 34
Port St. Joe traveled to Fort Walton to play in the Emerald Coast Thanksgiving Classic, hosted by Choctaw High School. The Lady Tiger Sharks played Class 4A South Walton. South Walton was down 11-10 after one quarter but had built the lead to 27-14 by halftime. Port St. Joe was down by more than 20 points in the third quarter but got within six. Larry had 12 points, four rebounds, one assist and three steals and Lenox added 10 points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals. Croom had five points, three rebounds and a steal, Johnson two points, six rebounds and one block and India Gant, a seventh-grader, two points and a rebound.
Port St. Joe 33, North Bay Haven 17
The Lady Tiger Sharks traveled to take on North Bay Haven, taking a 9-6 first-quarter lead and coasting to victory. Lenox led the way with 18 points, three rebounds, six steals and four assists, Gant added eight points, three rebounds and one steal, Larry five points, three rebounds and four assists and Croom two points and three rebounds.
Bay 31, Port St. Joe 28
On the road again, and the Lady Tiger Sharks’ next three games are also on the road, Port St. Joe traveled to take on Class 5A Bay. After the first quarter left the teams knotted, Port St. Joe took a 18-17 lead into the break. It was still a one-point margin after three periods, but Port St. Joe couldn’t hold on, out-scored 9-5.
Gant had nine points, two rebounds and one assist and Johnson added nine points and 10 rebounds. Lenox chipped in six points, two rebounds, five assists and three steals and Larry had four points, three rebounds and two steals.