By FRANCIS FEDOR
Sumner hoops made its return from the holidays with a successful run through the Dunedin High School Holiday tournament, opening with a 76-32 drubbing of Canterbury HS. The Stingrays followed up that win by defeating Palm Harbor HS 65-32. They added a 65-58 win over Northeast on Friday night for the Dunedin tournament championship. The ‘Rays then traveled to Wesley Chapel for the Wiregrass Classic but could not maintain the success, losing 64-58 in OT to the Berkeley Prep Buccaneers.
The Stingrays returned to the hardwood all rested up over a two-week break to travel to Dunedin for tourney action. They opened competition in the Red bracket against the Canterbury Crusaders from St. Petersburg and welcomed back Tyler Willams to the roster, returning from an injury sustained during the football playoff season. The Stingrays showed no signs of rust and raced to a 39-12 halftime lead. They had their biggest quarter of the game with a 26-point 3rd quarter, showing no signs of letting up in route to the 76-32 blowout. Karsten Walker, who had a standout tournament, led all scorers with 14 points, and Devin Baker added 12 points for the victors. Almost all of the scoring was from the floor as Sumner only had five free throw attempts for the night. The Stingrays carried the momentum over to the match-up against the Palm Harbor Hurricanes. These tournaments offer the teams a chance to play competition they wouldn’t normally see in their regular season schedule. The Stingrays used a 23-6 second quarter to open up a 22-point lead coming into the third quarter and finished strong with a 20-point third to put the game away. The Stingrays were again led by Karsten Walker with 16 points, and Jacob Douglas added in another 15. Kyree Williams launched nine 3-point attempts, connecting on four to give him 12 points for the winners.
Sumner, by virtue of the two earlier wins, played in the championship game vs. the Northeast Vikings. The Vikings earned their spot in the final by narrowly defeating the vaunted IMG Academy Blue squad 58-57. They also defeated a Stingray South Shore rival, Lennard, to open their tournament play. The ‘Rays, as they have many other times this season, seized the opening quarter 22-9. The Vikings staged a bit of a comeback and won the second stanza 17-12, but Sumner carried enough energy into the final two quarters to capture the tournament trophy with a 66-58 victory. Karsten Walker led the Stingrays with 17 and was clearly a standout in the tourney for Sumner. Jacob Douglas added 14, bringing his typical big energy to the win. Isaiah Williams pulled down 12 rebounds and blocked nine shots to lead the defense.
The Stingrays couldn’t pull off the sweep for the holiday action, however, dropping their only game in the Wiregrass Ranch HS Classic to the 9-2 Berkeley Prep Buccaneers. The game was a tilt between two very evenly matched teams by record thus far this season. In a turnaround, the Stingrays found themselves down after the first quarter, 16-7. They went on to win every other quarter to send the game into OT, but the Buccaneers used an 8-2 extra frame to seal the victory. Jacob Douglas lit the scoreboard with a 25-point effort and a huge 5-7 effort from three-point distance. It was a good start for Ryan Bethoney and his team, coming back from the break, and they will play a stretch of four games at home, starting with Spoto on Tuesday (before this edition hits the street), Strawberry Crest on Wednesday, Jan. 10, and finishing out the week with Bloomingdale on Friday, Jan. 12.