LAKE PLACID - It was a rough night for Lake Placid's boys basketball team.
The Class 4A Green Dragons lost at home Friday night in their nondistrict game against Class 5A DeSoto by a score of 71-41, falling to 1-11 on the season.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, improved to 6-5.
"We've seen some progress, but tonight was a step back," said Dragons coach Dan Coomes. "But our guards did a really good job of handling the pressure."
DeSoto opened the game on a 5-0 run and never looked back, as the Bulldogs' methodical passing and vaunted post game simply wore down the Dragons. Forward Kari Williams was a terror both in the paint and at the perimeter, scoring at will to cap a game-high 23 points. Tony Lee followed with 11 and Reggie Jones added 10.
Lake Placid seemed somewhat shell-shocked at DeSoto's physicality in the early-going, amassing just five and nine points in the first and second quarters.
"The way the game was called, there was a lot of hand-checking," Coomes said. "That's not to say that the officials did a bad job, it was just a very physical game and DeSoto was allowed to close off some driving lanes by pushing our players away from the basket."
But Coomes knows that's not a valid excuse for the final score.
"We didn't respond in a like manner," he said. "We let the physicality overwhelm us. But I'm really proud of Kaetwon Lowe and Jose Rinald for their ability to handle the pressure. That aspect had hurt us a lot during the season, and they did a really nice job with that tonight."
In the second half, Lake Placid found its rhythm somewhat, scoring 14 points in the third quarter. Dragons forward Scott Colley led the way, scoring nine of his team-high 12 points in the period. Lake Placid also found its way to the charity stripe, as Rinald knocked down a handful of free-throws to cut into the deficit.
But with DeSoto leading 53-28, the Dragons faced an uphill battle. And despite scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter, Lake Placid simply didn't have enough time to close the gap, as the Bulldogs tacked on 18 points in the final period to pull away for the 30-point victory.
There some bright spots for the Dragons in the second half, though, as Isaac Imeverson scored six points in the fourth quarter and snagged four rebounds. Marquavein Copeland also came alive for three points and handful of rebounds. Rinald and Imeverson rounded out the scoring, adding 10 and eight respectively, and Lowe dished five assists.
Due to the annual Taveniere Tournament, Lake Placid won't get much of a break in its already hectic schedule.
"Tonight was the third game of the week," Coomes said. "And when you play so many physical games in a row, you're not going to be as physical, your legs can only last for so long."
"But the guys will get some days off, rest, and enjoy Christmas. Then we'll come in and shoot a little bit on Christmas night and be ready to go."
Lake Placid opens the Taveniere Tournament against Class 6A Teneroc on Thursday at 3 p.m. in Blue Streaks Gym in Sebring.
No matter if the Dragons win or lose, they'll be playing another Highlands County opponent, as they'll face either Avon Park or Sebring in the second round. The Dragons and Red Devils are Class 4A-District 9 rivals already, and Avon Park completed the season sweep on Dec. 13 with a resounding 57-38 victory.
Lake Placid resumes its district schedule in 2014, when the Dragons host Mulberry on Jan. 10.