The road was not kind to two local Pensacola boys basketball teams hoping to keep their hopes alive for a trip to Lakeland for the state tournament.
The Pensacola High Tigers fell behind early to the Gainesville Purple Hurricanes and never recovered in falling 63-44 in the Region 1-6A semifinals, while the Catholic High Crusaders took an early lead on unbeaten Godby only to have the Cougars storm back for a decisive 69-49 win in the Region 1-4A semifinals.
The Crusaders surprised Godby early in the game with a quick 10-5 lead, but the Cougars switched to a full-court press and quickly erased that deficit and turned it into a 31-20 lead midway through the second quarter.
Catholic was able to claw back to make it a 33-30 game at the break, but Godby opened the third with a 16-4 run to take a commanding 49-34 lead.
DJ Laster led the Crusaders (20-7) with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“We did really well in the first quarter and played our game,” Catholic coach Nick Mead said. “We got into a little foul trouble and with their relentless pressure, it was tough. They hit a couple of shots to get closer. We got away from the gameplan and started losing our legs.
“With their length and athleticism, it’s something you can’t prepare for. When we did beat the press, we didn’t convert the shots in halfcourt. They were ready. They’re very good at what they do.”
In Gainesville, PHS fell behind 21-5 in the first quarter and could never claw back.
The Purple Hurricanes led by as many as 21 points in that first half before the Tigers played them straight up the rest of the way.
Marquis Cole led PHS with 18 while freshman Shawndarius Cowart added 10.
Pensacola High finished the season with a 22-6 record.
“(Gainesville High) did a really good job up front,” Pensacola coach Terrence Harris said. “They had four to five guys going for every rebound. The glass hurt us. For us it created a big problem.
“We went to bad habits in the first quarter. In a game like this, younger kids have a tendency to return to bad habits.”