LAKELAND — The Pine Forest Eagles got off to the worst start imaginable and never recovered here Saturday at The Lakeland Center, falling to Miami Norland, 42-30, in the Class 6A boys basketball state championship game.
The Eagles (30-2), playing in the program’s first-ever state title game, were held scoreless in the first quarter, missing all nine shots they took.
“First quarter — we couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” Pine Forest coach Brad Grant said. “Free throws. It’s not that we didn’t play hard. We got it down to seven point game at halftime.
“What it really comes down to it is baskets, you have to stop people from making baskets, you have to make them yourself. I have to say I’m proud of these guys. I’m glad I was along for the ride.”
It didn’t get any better the rest of the way, as Norland turned a 5-0 first-quarter lead into a 17-10 halftime lead and then 26-17 entering the fourth quarter.
The Vikings (26-5) made it back-to-back state championships with the win, and four state titles since 2006 for the program.
The Eagles finished the game shooting only 15.7 percent from the floor. Pine Forest made only 8-of-51 shots from the field and also struggled from the free-throw line with an 11-of-23 clip for 43 percent.
Shamar Johnson led the Eagles with 13 points and 11 rebounds.