Lakes' upset bid to No. 1 Ely falls short in double-overtime in 7A regional final
Monday, February 25, 2013
by Jeff Greer
The cheerleaders didn't move. Neither did Palm Beach Lakes' players on the bench. If the scoreboard didn't say it all, the tears streaming down their aces did.
They played the game of their lives at Pompano Beach-Ely, pushing their nationally ranked opponent to brink of a stunning upset, only to watch their state final four bid slip away with a wave of turnovers and miscues.
The state's top-ranked team in Class 7A, Ely, held off Palm Beach Lakes 85-79 in a thrilling double-overtime game that drained the fans in Ely's almost as much as the players who played it.
"It was a spectators' game," said Ely coach Melvin Randall, whose team earned a trip to Lakeland to defend its 2012 state title.
It wasn't fun to watch for Lakes coach Lorenzo Hands, not with the Rams leading and less than a minute from state. Lakes (22-4) took a 63-60 lead into a final-minute timeout at the end of regulation, and to that point had successfully used a four-corners offense to kill two minutes off the clock.
But a turnover off the inbounds pass set off a chain of events that led to one overtime, and then another.
In the second overtime, Ely's veterans calmly pushed ahead, killing any hope of a Lakes upset.
"We were just one or two plays away from heading to Lakeland," said Hands, who couldn't describe his emotions walking off the court. "It came down to technical things. We're still young and they're trying to make the right plays and we just fell short."
Lakes' key players changed over the course of the game. At first it was senior big man Max Caines, who charged right at Ely's 6-foot-8 Division I-bound forward Kahlil Thomas. Caines tallied 20 points, six rebounds and two blocks, and scored 16 first-half points.
Then Gito St. Fort (21 points) and Quincy Rideau (13 points) carried Lakes in the second half and first overtime.
But it was Ely's Thomas, who had 17 points and 17 rebounds, and his talented guards who took over when it coutned most. Richard Lee (20 points), Lance Tejada (18) and Dallas Cameron (17) each traded off big-time plays.
That wave of clutch performances swept away all the emotional momentum Lakes gained over the first 32 minutes, and it crushed a young team oh-so-close to a monumental upset.
"We thought we had it," Caines said.