NAPLES — Fun while it lasted, the honeymoon for the South Fort Myers High School boys basketball team has ended.
"We're getting used to each other. It's like a marriage. There are ups and downs," said Wolfpack forward Sherman Dyal who scored 14 points in South's 77-50 loss at Community School of Naples on Saturday night.
Early in the season South (7-9) displayed an affection for winning by capturing six of its first seven games, but has since lost seven of eight, including Saturday's blowout, which was closer than the final score indicated.
The Seahawks broke open a tight game by outscoring the Wolfpack 40-14 in the final 12 minutes.
"Community School is a very good team, a very well-coached team," said South coach Greg Anderson. "I knew they were capable of scoring in bunches and that's what happened. Obviously, we had a lot of trouble with their pressure and once they started pressuring us, especially in the backcourt, that's when it really turned."
"We were close and then they got a couple of turnovers and extended the lead and it was like we couldn't do anything about it," added forward Bradley Rucker, who led the Wolfpack with 15 points, a dozen of which came in the second half.
After a quiet first half, Rucker sizzled in the third quarter, scoring the team's first six points and notching a block. But South was hampered by an inability to get the ball into the paint on a regular basis.
A 3-pointer by Dyal with 4:40 left in the quarter brought South to within 37-36 before CSN unleashed an explosive demonstration of sound fundamental basketball, highlighted by a ferocious defense.
CSN's quaint gymnasium off Livingston Road became Turnover Turnpike for the first-year Wolfpack.
"We haven't practiced our press breaker that much and I think that came up and bit us in the butt at the end," said Rucker.
"I've coached with (CSN coach Bill Carufe) for many years and I know all these players," added Anderson. "I knew they were capable of putting on an amoebae-type press. It didn't catch me off guard. It didn't surprise me that we struggled because I know we have the potential to play very well, but one of the first-year school struggles is that we have the potential to not play well at times, too."
CSN's spurt coincided with foul trouble by Dyal, who picked up his third on a questionable call in the lane.
"We didn't like the way the ref was calling (the game) because we were standing straight up and we'd move with them and they'd call fouls," said Dyal.
The Seahawks (11-3) started the fourth quarter ahead 50-38 and quickly turned the game into a rout by converting four consecutive steals into baskets, three of which came from Frank DeSalvo.
Often the Wolfpack got beat down the court, but it was nothing compared to the beating Anderson's clipboard took from the coach slamming it to the floor in frustration.
Shortly after a 3-pointer by Kyle Peterson put CSN up by 28 with four minutes left, Carufe emptied his bench.
Four Seahawks finished in double digit scoring, led by Greg Beretta with 21 points and Peterson with 20.
"We have a lot of confidence in them," said Carufe. "They've been our top scorers all year. They've been real consistent. They work hard in practice and their performance in the game reflects that."
Chris Alvarez (15 points) and DeSalvo (10 points) were CSN's other top scorers.
In the first half, Dyal was a key in keeping South in the game at both ends of the court. He made a steal and layup in the final seconds of the first quarter to get the Wolfpack to within 13-12 heading to the second quarter.
Kenny Loiuma and Dyal each had a steal and layup to start the second quarter and Jimmy Jean hit a 3-pointer to give South its last lead of the game at 19-18.
A pair of late hoops by Jordan Peterson (seven points) and a layup by Zac Brindise (five points) brought the Wolfpack to within 30-27 at halftime.
Coupled with losses against Cape Coral and Lehigh, South entered this week on a four-game losing streak as it tried to regain the winning touch from earlier in the season.
"Not to say we had an easy schedule by any means because we played some pretty good games and beat some okay teams," said Anderson, "but it's just a matter of getting into a part of the schedule where there's no easy teams anymore."
"We've just got to keep climbing up that hill and try to get better," said Rucker. "We're going to learn from every one of these games and learn from our mistakes and we're going to get better."