Lee County basketball teams struggled at the seventh annual Wally Keller Classic at Charlotte High School on Saturday.
East Lee County started things off with a 55-35 loss to Gibbs High School. Game MVP Barry Brown of the Gladiators (17-3) had a game-high 17 points. Team MVP Yusuf Gooding scored eight for the Jaguars (14-7).
“It’s a good experience to come out and play these teams that we don’t see all the time,” East Lee coach Justin Woodcox said. “The guys just need to get mentally tougher and we’re not there yet.”
In the second and best game, Fort Myers played a thriller against Lake Wales, the top team in District 5A.
The Green Wave were down 41-35 going into the second half, but were able to close to within one with less than a minute remaining. That was when sophomore Mark Matthews sank a floater over the defense to give Fort Myers its first lead of the half at 69-68.
However, with 14.6 seconds remaining, Lake Wales answered back with a 3 by Marcus Dewberry. Fort Myers was not able to hit a winning shot, falling 72-69.
“I thought out guys showed a lot of heart today,” Fort Myers coach Scott Guttery said.
“I feel like our guys really believe in each other, believe in our system and we’ve gotten better as the year goes on. We’ll learn from this game. We’ll get better and we’ll come back stronger next week.”
Wes Graddy was the player of the game for Fort Myers (15-4) with 19 points and 14 rebounds. All but two of those points were scored in the second half. His brother, Billy Graddy, added 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Douglas Brooks scored 17 points in the first quarter to notch a game-high 21 points for Lake Wales.
Bishop Verot wrapped up the tournament for Lee County by playing Allatoona, Ga., the only team in the Classic not from the state of Florida.
Mason Taylor scored a game-high 25 points, but it was not enough for the Vikings who fell to the Buccaneers 58-42.
“(Taylor’s) performance was incredible,” Vikings coach Matt Herting said.”We just need guys other than Mason to hit shots in order to beat good teams.”