In a tight match up between Eastside High School and Palatka High School, the Rams fell short to the Panthers 61-60 in the regional semifinal of the 2019 FHSAA Boys Basketball State Playoffs.
The Rams led throughout most of the game but Palatka came back from eight points down in the final quarter to get the win.
“You come back stronger. The kids had a great season and I’m proud of them,” said Eastside coach Herman “Pop” Williams. “If we had stood up to the challenge, we would’ve came out on top.”
The first quarter started off with the Rams attempting to make more three-point shots than anything else. It worked out for them as the quarter ended with Eastside up 13-9. The second quarter was similar to the first as Eastside ended the half up 29-26.
“We missed some key rebounds and we let them drive to the basket,” Williams said. “We didn’t step in like we normally do.”
During the third quarter of the game, the score tightened up and entering the fourth quarter it was a one point game with the Rams on top 46-45. The final quarter of the game had nonstop back-and-forth scoring from both teams, but the Panthers took the win by one point.
“We adjusted on a lot of stuff that they did and they adjusted on a lot of stuff that we did,” Williams said. “We gave them too many open layups, they probably had 10, 15, 20 points just in layups. That’s too many.”
The game ended with Eastside at the line for two free throws with two seconds to go in the game, but the Rams missed one of them and Palatka held on for the win.
Now with seven seniors graduating, the team looks forward to preparing for next season.
“They got to still work. Take a little time off and come back and work and just be positive with your life,” Williams said. “It ain’t the end of the world.”
The Rams finished their season with an overall record of 26-3 and a 10-0 record in district play.
“At the end of the game it’s all about the free throw. It might be the one you miss at the beginning of the game or the one you miss at the end,” Williams said. “Both of them can cause you the game. You just have to take it and go.”
Palatka High School plays on the road against Nature Coast Tech High School for the Region 2 championship on Friday.