The Mariner High School boys basketball team capitalized on a stellar second-half defensive effort to pull away from pesky rival Cape Coral, claiming the District 5A-13 championship with a 51-38 victory Friday at Frank Morris Memorial Gymnasium.
We’ve been talking a lot about mental toughness and I thought tonight was a great example of us showing that,” Tritons coach James Harris said. “Defense is where we won the game.”
Mariner (17-10) held the visiting Seahawks to just 16 points in the final two quarters and never trailed in the second half on its way to a second consecutive district title.
Cape Coral (12-15), seeking its first district crown since the 2004-05 season, opened the game on a 5-0 run. Senior guard David Flynn scored seven points as the Seahawks built a 13-11 lead after the first quarter.
Tritons sophomore guard Rodney Hunter scored all 11 of Mariner’s points in the opening quarter as his teammates struggled to find their offensive groove.
“That’s not the way we drew it up but (Hunter) did a great job of getting some points and keeping us in the game,” Harris said.
Cape scored the first four points of the second quarter but the Tritons closed out the first half on a 12-5 run to lead 23-22 at the break.
Mariner got an offensive boost from senior forward Rick Moore, who scored seven of his 15 points in the third quarter as the Tritons grabbed control of the game.
“The second half we came out with a lot more energy and that was the difference,” Moore said.
Hunter led all scorers with 25 points, 10 of which came from the free throw line. Senior forward Chase Galuzny paced the Seahawks with 13 points while Flynn added 12.
Mariner will host Golden Gate (15-10) in a Region 5A-4 quarterfinal Tuesday. Cape Coral, which is making its first appearance in the state playoffs in six seasons, will travel to Lely (18-10).