North Port holds off Sarasota, 65-62

NORTH PORT

Emani Jefferson had a night for the ages.

And imagine if she wasn’t ill.

Battling the flu, Jefferson set the North Port High basketball scoring record with 42 points and the Bobcats needed just about every one in a 65-62 victory over visiting Sarasota High in a non-district game Friday night at The Cage.

A 5-foot-5 junior guard, Jefferson broke the mark of 41 set by boys player Bryan O’Boyle last season. She already had the girls mark.

“Happy, I guess,” Jefferson said when informed of the record.

She also scored the Bobcats’ final 19 points of the game, including two free throws with 24.7 seconds left, to give North Port a 63-62 lead. She added a steal and a layup with 8 ticks remaining for a little insurance.

The Bobcats’ Katelyn Hall tied up Sarasota’s Cheyenne Stubbs, who led the Sailors with 21 points, as the final horn sounded.

“Best game of the year,” Sailors coach Wade McVay said. “Good quality opponent. Just little mistakes at the end, but that’s going to happen to an inexperienced team.”

Coming off a 34-point loss to Braden River High on Thursday night, the Sailors (2-5) were competitive all night. They opened a seven-point lead in the third quarter on a 3-pointer and free throw by Stubbs, a sophomore guard.

There were 14 lead changes and 12 ties in the game, five lead changes and five ties in the fourth quarter.

“Yes, we came out a little shaky,” Jefferson said. “We had to pull it out in the end like we always do.”

Jefferson hit a running layup in the final seconds to give North Port a win over Riverview High on Wednesday. Playing three games in four days took its toll early on the Bobcats.

“It took us a little while to get going. Our momentum, our enthusiasm was off in the first half,” North Port coach Dale Huffman said. “But hey they pulled it out.”

The Bobcats (7-1) showed more life in the second half.

“We played a good third quarter which got us back in it,” Huffman said. “Of course, the fourth apparently was The Emani Show.”

Jefferson made 13 field goals, including three 3-pointers, and was 13-for-23 from the free throw line. The Bobcats, who extended their winning streak to three games, also received a spark from sophomore center Brooke Sawyer, who provided offensive and defensive rebounding, especially early.

Kate Meyer, a senior center, chipped in with 18 points, including a bank shot with 28 seconds remaining in regulation that gave Sarasota a 62-61 lead.

“I’ll still take a win over a pretty loss,” McVay said.

The Sailors return to action Tuesday at Lakewood Ranch for a district contest.

North Port also has a district game Tuesday night at home against Naples Gulf Coast.