The Mariner Tritons cruised into the semifinals of the Mariner Christmas Tournament with a 72-44 win Friday night against Cypress Lake.
Friday’s other winners were Estero, which defeated Charlotte 67-60; and Palmetto, which beat Island Coast 71-52 at Mariner’s Frank Morris Memorial Gym.
Mariner (9-2) did most of its damage in the first half, leading 47-18 at intermission. Coach James Harris gave his bench players plenty of court time in the final two periods.
Kaleb Darrett scored 27 points to lead the Tritons, including 12 in the second quarter. Rodney Hunter hit three 3-pointers in the first period and finished with 14 points.
An outmanned Cypress Lake team (1-10) was led by Fritz Maxi’s 15 points. Devin Grimm added 11.
Harris wasn’t entirely happy with his team’s performance Friday. The Tritons seemed to lose their edge after getting out to that big lead.
“We’re trying to turn the corner on that,” Harris said. “Being engaged for 32 minutes instead of 16 or 20. I don’t like the idea of coasting. I want to finish well.”
Mariner faces Southwest Florida Christian, which beat Lehigh on Thursday, in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Cypress Lake plays Lehigh at 4 p.m. in the consolation bracket.
“SFCA presents a great challenge for us,” Harris said. “They knocked off a very good (Lehigh) team Thursday. They certainly have my full attention. If the guys aren’t focused, they can knock off two teams in a row.”
PALMETTO 71, ISLAND COAST 52: Island Coast (3-6) fell behind 25-8 after the first quarter and could never catch up.
Island Coast regrouped after the first quarter, coming within nine points at 52-43 with 21 seconds to play in the third period. The game was not decided until Palmetto (9-1) scored the game’s final eight points.
“We kind of hung around, hung around, hung around, but we couldn’t get that one break to get over the hump,” Island Coast coach Greg Coleman said. “We’d cut it to nine and couldn’t get the box-out or couldn’t get an offensive rebound or something like that.”
Palmetto scored the game’s first 13 points before Sonel Mathurin got Island Coast on the board.
“We could have very easily packed it in right there in the first period,” Coleman said. “They jumped on us. Their athleticism could have taken over but we showed good character in trying to hang around.”
Morgan Foreman started slowly but led Island Coast with 22 points – 13 in the second half. Mathurin finished with 13 points.
Jordan Young scored 17 points and Stephen Saunders and Jarrid Rhodes scored 15 each for Palmetto.
Palmetto advances to a 5:45 p.m. semifinal against Estero, while the Gators face Charlotte at 2:15 p.m.
ESTERO 67, CHARLOTTE 60: The Wildcats’ big first half was just enough to overcome Charlotte’s big fourth quarter.
Down 21 after three quarters, the Tarpons (6-4) came within 55-51 and had a chance to cut the lead to one, but couldn’t make a pair of 3-pointers. Estero (10-3) was able to put the game away.
“It was more than a little bit of a scare,” Wildcats coach Lee Peters said. “That was a significant lead that we nearly gave away.
“The other side of that is that first half was probably as well as we can play basketball. It was pretty spectacular for us.”
Margens Desire had 24 points to lead Estero. R.J. Myers scored 17 points, hitting five 3-pointers, and Nick Grella finished with 11 points.
Myers and Grella had three 3-pointers each in the first half.
Adrian Ivankovic hit three of his six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. His 18 points led Charlotte. Ty Tyler added 11 points.
“You can’t play just quarters,” Tarpons coach Tom Massolio said. “You have to play 32 minutes.”