LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid girls basketball team let an eight-point lead and first place in Class 4A-District 9 standings slip away in a disappointing 51-45 loss to McKeel Academy on Tuesday night.
The loss dropped the Green Dragons to 9-3 overall and 5-2 in district play, while the Wildcats improved to 11-1, 5-1.
Lake Placid girls basketball coach Jackie Coyne explained that her team is still learning how to take care of a possession because they tend to rush when they have a lead.
"They don't understand that it does not mean going slower," said Coyne. "It means being more methodical, it means execute more because we are looking for easy shots. That's where they start to break down. That's where experience comes in and we have to get better at. Maximize our possessions and limit theirs."
The fast tempo of the game suited the Green Dragons well as they scored the first points on a basket by Shaquavia Gayle, but the Wildcats stayed closed as both teams went into a blistering scoring pace.
At the end of the first quarter, Lake Placid held at 16-14 lead as Gayle scored 10 points for the Green Dragons.
The scoring frequency slowed in the second quarter as Lake Placid built a 22-16 lead, but the Wildcats charged back during the last three minutes of the first half, going on an 8-2 run to tie the score at 24 going into intermission.
Lake Placid came out hot in the third quarter as they outscored the Wildcats 13-4 over the first six minutes to hold a 37-28 advantage.
McKeel's Tanner Esposito drained a 3-pointer to cut the Green Dragon lead to 39-33 heading into the final quarter.
For the fourth straight period, Lake Placid scored the first points on a short jumper by Quiahja Williams to extend the Green Dragon lead to 41-33.
Then came the noticeable change in the tempo which Lake Placid struggled with.
In trying to run more time of the clock, they slowed down. The problem was that McKeel did not as they scored eight unanswered points to tie the game at 41 with 4:46 left in the game.
"I still wanted them to push," the Green Dragon coach said. "But be more selective in the shot process. If the shot is not there, don't take it and keep possession."
Neither team scored over the next two minutes until McKeel's Summer Alamm's basket with 2:40 left, giving the Wildcats their first lead at 43-41.
Though Lake Placid tied the game at 43, the momentum had clearly shifted to the Wildcats as they scored six consecutive points to hold a 49-43 lead with a minute left.
The clock ran out and McKeel escaped with the district win.
"At the end, we did the opposite," said Coyne. "We held on to the ball with time running out instead of pushing it down the court and shooting the 3-pointer.
"They have never been in that position and did not understand that we have to shoot the ball quickly. Right now mentally, they just don't get it."
Gayle led the Green Dragons with 16 with Williams contributed 12 in the loss. Esposito led the Wildcats with a game-high 22 points in the win.
Lake Placid is off during the holidays with their next scheduled game being at home against the Okeechobee Brahmans on Jan. 6.