Hawks start fast, but West Shore wins with clutch shot

Four Viera players score in double figures in loss


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Viera's DJ Pearson drives in for a layup during Tuesday night's game against West Shore. The Hawks led 31-9 after the first quarter, but ended up losing 67=66.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

At this stage of the season, the Viera High boys basketball team isn’t necessarily searching for wins.

The Hawks are searching for someone to lead them to wins.

After racing out to a 31-9 first quarter lead against visiting West Shore Tuesday night, the Hawks got bogged down by defensive struggles and an offense that suddenly seemed out of rhythm.

West Shore’s Travis McClendon scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half, including the game-winner with 8.9 seconds remaining as the Wildcats rallied for a 67-66 non-district victory.

Sean Atkins had 16 points to lead the Hawks (0-2), who had four players in double figures.

DJ Pearson had 15 points for Viera. Quez Menyfield and Andre Jones each had 14.

After falling behind 5-0 to start the game, the Hawks scored the next 10 points and went on a 17-2 run to seemingly take command of the game. But after getting off to such a hot start, Viera managed just eight points in the second quarter.

It was 57-49 after three periods as West Shore (4-1) certainly stepped up its game and the Hawks defense struggled to get stops.

That held true until the end as each time Viera was able to get a slim lead, the Wildcats came back with an answer until McClendon used a screen to hit his big shot. Viera would get one last shot, but missed from the corner as time ran out.

Viera, which ultimately lost five players – including leading scorer Trey Schaneville -- from last year’s team that went 19-7, won the district championship and advanced to the Class 8A regional semifinals, is looking for its closer.

Viera coach Brett Fink isn’t worried.

“We’re struggling with figuring out who is going to be our guy who, when we need him, directs traffic and makes the whole thing run,” Fink said. “We’re getting great contributions from everybody, but we need to find that guy who is going to be able to hold everybody else accountable and provide some leadership.

“We’ve got some candidates. We’ve got some guys who I think can do it. But we’ve relied on someone else for the previous two seasons. (Finding out) who is going to take that mantle is hard.

“That’s going to be a season thing. I have my suspicions on who that’s gong to be, but the team has to pick that. The coach can pick the captain, but the leader of the team has got to be chosen by the team. We’ll see how that plays out, and I think that will play out well.”

The Hawks will play at Heritage on Friday.