Ponte Vedra can’t complete comeback in boys hoops title game loss

The Ponte Vedra boys basketball team lost to Martin County, 53-49 in the Class 6A state championship game on Saturday night. (News4JAX)

Ponte Vedra’s comeback came up a bit short.

The Sharks made a furious rally at the finish but couldn’t clear the final hurdle in a 53-49 loss to Stuart Martin County in the Class 6A state championship game at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland on Saturday night.

Ponte Vedra trailed by as many as 13 midway through the third quarter but roared back to get within a possession five different times in the fourth. A pair of free throws by Ross Candelino with 2 minutes, 10 seconds to play got the Sharks to within 46-44 but the Tigers managed to stay a step ahead the rest of the way.

The loss ended a storybook season for Ponte Vedra, which had never been past the third round of the postseason until this run. The Sharks were trying to win just the second FHSAA boys basketball state title. Only Nease in 2002 — nearly 20 years ago to the day — has won a state crown.

Candelino led Ponte Vedra with 16 points, followed by Luke Pirris (13) and Nathan Bunkosky (10). The Sharks had a miserable day from the floor, going just 2 of 16 from the 3-point arc and shooting just 31% from the field.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.