Photography by Gary Lloyd McCullough, January 9th, 2016.

Photography by Gary Lloyd McCullough, January 9th, 2016.

The Jacksonville Giants secured an exciting 113-98 victory over a very familiar team, the Daytona Beach Sharks. On the opening weekend of the 2015-16 season, the Giants dropped two straight games to the Sharks by scores of 95-93 and 116-114. The Giants were devastated, but head coach Kevin Waters and assistant coach Jerry Williams did not panic. Since the early season losses to Daytona, the Giants persevered and showed tremendous progress as the regular season comes to an end. The win places Jacksonville at 19-6 overall and keeps them in contention for a number one seed in the ABA Power Rankings.

“After losing our first two games of the season to the Sharks, we really wanted to come out and make a statement,” said Giants assistant coach Jerry Williams. “We played a really good game tonight against a well put together Daytona Sharks team.”

Jacksonville and Daytona will play for the fourth time this season on Wednesday night. The battle will take place at St. Augustine High School for a 7:00 PM tip off. Wednesday night’s game will have major implications to the ABA power rankings as the league heads into the postseason.

“We expect Wednesday’s game against the Sharks to be just as tough,” said Williams.

Both teams played aggressively and inspired in front of the Nassau County crowd. Veterans Jermain Bell and Ed Horton played with incredible poise as both players combined for 16 points in the opening quarter. Bell gave the Giants a spark with dominant inside shooting as Horton made key baskets from outside the perimeter. There were seven lead changes in the first quarter, with Daytona edging the Giants 31-28 going into the second.

Jacksonville went on an early 10-0 run to start the second quarter, but the Sharks answered with some good outside shooting from Kevin Rhuhlac and Shavaro Bowleg to keep the deficit cut to 51-48 at halftime. Horton continued his strong outside shooting for Jacksonville while Elijah Smith added five points, including a hard-earned slam dunk. Richard Ford also landed a key three-pointer to keep the Giants in control.

The second half provided more excitement for the fans as Daytona regained the lead 58-57 midway through the third quarter, but the Giants went on another run and went into the fourth quarter with an 82-70 lead. Horton had another explosive offensive performance as the shooting guard contributed 24 total points, including 12 in the third quarter. Bell also flourished as he finished with 20 points on the evening.

The fourth quarter was all Jacksonville as the Giants were unstoppable keeping a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game. The Giants were able to keep Daytona off balance with a physical defensive presence. The Sharks’ leading scorer was Rhuhlac with 31 points, followed by Bowleg who had 20 points.