After beating Matanzas on Friday, Dec. 1, Seabreeze’s boys basketball team posed for a team picture.
The Sandcrabs have played only three games this season, so it may seem a tad early to be celebrating, but for the first time in nine years Seabreeze is 3-0, and that seemed worthy of recognition.
“I love being 3-0 and undefeated,” senior John Dunlap said. “We’re changing the culture.”
Dunlap scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Sandcrabs overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Matanzas 52-46 at the Seabreeze gym.
The Sandcrabs were missing starting point guard Mikey Steward, who was sick. Their ranks got even thinner when second-leading scorer Aiden Bailey and junior Jack Pesarchick left the game with injuries.
“Some of our really young guys stepped up tonight,” Seabreeze coach Ray Gaines said. “Evan Bailey stepped up when his brother went down.”
Evan Bailey, a sophomore, scored 14 points, including two 3-pointers.
Matanzas forward Henry Robinson Jr., ranked among the top 25 freshmen in the nation, scored a game-high 20 points. The 6-foot-7 Robinson hit three 3-point shots, all in the first quarter, and added a couple of alley-oop dunks as the Pirates (1-5) took a 25-15 lead at the half.
Junior Rya’sir Jefferson added 12 points for Matanzas.
Dunlap, who was held to just two points in the first half, said the Sandcrabs were never worried.
“We just picked up the intensity,” he said. “They were tired. We’ve been practicing at 6 a.m. since last year, and we know we’re in better shape than most teams in the area.”
Gaines’ message at halftime was that despite their injuries and the 10-point deficit, the Sandcrabs were in a good position to win.
“John Robert (Dunlap) had only two points at the half, and we were only down 10 points,” Gaines said. “We score a couple of baskets and stop them, and now it’s down to six. Aiden Bailey got hurt, but I told our guys, ‘This is where you earn your minutes.’”
Dunlap got more aggressive in the second half, driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line. He hit 9 of 10 free throws in the game as the Sandcrabs went 13 of 16 from the free-throw line. Matanzas went 9 of 15 from the line.
He’s been our guy. He’s our emotional leader. He takes charges, controls rebounds, but tonight I needed him to put the ball in the hole, and he did.”
— RAY GAINES, Seabreeze coach on senior forward John Dunlap
“He’s been our guy. He’s our emotional leader,” Gaines said of Dunlap. “He takes charges, controls rebounds, but tonight I needed him to put the ball in the hole, and he did.”
Evan Bailey scored nine of his points in the final three minutes. He hit his second 3-pointer to put the Sandcrabs up 44-38 and then added two layups and a couple of free throws after Matanzas got within four twice in the final two minutes.
“I felt like in the second half we didn’t have enough energy, and we waited too long to turn it on,” said Robinson, who is averaging 21.3 points.
The game marked the fourth and final game of Matanzas head coach Henry Robinson Sr.’s suspension. Robinson was suspended after he was ejected from the St. Joseph game on Nov. 21 — the Pirates’ only win of the season.
Robinson Jr. said when his father is on the bench, he makes sure the Pirates keep their energy up.
“He gets on us more than the other coaches,” Robinson Jr. said.