The third quarter changed everything.
Golden Gate erased a seven-point deficit in the final 4:31 of the period, then went on to hold off Mariner 68-64 on Thursday in the first round of the Class 5A boys basketball regional playoffs at Mariner High School.
The Titans (17-10) earned a rematch against at Lely on Tuesday. Lely, which defeated Golden Gate in the District 5A-14 final, advanced Thursday by beating Cape Coral.
Titans coach Joe Consolino decided to use defense to spark the third-quarter turnaround. Taking a timeout at 4:31 with his team trailing 44-37, Consolino went to a three-quarter-court pressure attack. By the time the clock stuck 0:00 for the period, the Titans were up 53-49.
“We ran a little three-quarter thing to slow the ball down,” Consolino said. “They get up and down the floor pretty good, and if you don’t cover up their 3-point shooters they’re going to knock those things down. So we decided to go with that just to try to slow the ball down a little bit and I think it worked against them.”
Senior forward Keovis Brice gave Golden Gate the lead for good with six seconds left, then reserve guard Jorquel Condomina stole the ball and scored as the buzzer sounded.
“That run in the third quarter, when we were up and then we look up and we’re down four … We got away from the things that made us successful,” Mariner coach James Harris said.
Brice had 13 of his 19 points in the second half and Condomina, a sophomore, scored 10 of his 12 during the final two periods.
“He (Brice) is one of those guys … every team any more is so perimeter-oriented, like we are, and sometimes they overlook that kind of guy. He’s really strong underneath, he can score on anybody. I’m glad he got the ball in the second half. That was important.”
Junior Garrett Maze led Golden Gate with 23 points, including four 3-pointers.
Sophomore Rodney Hunter led Mariner (17-11) with 28 points and senior Rick Moore scored 18 points.
Mariner trailed by 63-55 with just over a minute to play in the game, but senior Callin Nash hit a 3-pointer that got the Tritons within 63-61 before Condomina put the game away at the free-throw line.
“It became an uphill battle when we got down nine, but the thing on this team all year is they never quit,” Harris said. “They had several opportunities to quit and they didn’t. They certainly made it interesting at the end.”
Next up for Golden Gate is that rematch at Lely.
“We’re going back down there,” Consolino said. “There’s some incentive for us. We’ve never been to that game. We’ve been to the Sweet 16 but we’ve never been to the Elite Eight.
“It’ll be a tough game. It’s a battle every time. Just like Mariner was.”