Palm Beach Gardens played three good quarters of basketball Thursday in its first-round matchup with Coral Glades-Coral Shores at the Palm Beach Shoot Out.
But a poor fourth quarter was the difference in a 68-54 loss to the Jaguars.
Coral Glades outscored the Gators 25-8 in the final quarter to pull away with the win at Atlantic Christian Academy.
Jaguars guard Steven Quintero led all scorers with 24 points, while forward Nehemiah Harrigan added 17 for Coral Glades, which trailed by nine points at halftime and three after the third quarter.
The Jaguars improved to 4-6 with the win, while Palm Beach Gardens dropped to 1-7.
Both teams will play again Friday.
“We’re an extremely young team,” Gators coach James Lake said. “We only have two seniors this year, and they’re two seniors who haven’t been with the program. We’ve got a bunch of kids that came up from JV last year. They play hard, but they pretty much have to learn how to win basketball games.”
Palm Beach Gardens had its outside shooting working early, hitting a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers to take an early 6-2 lead.
But turnovers caught up to the Gators, and that helped allow Coral Glades to even the score and then jump ahead briefly.
The quarter remained tight, however, as both teams struggled with their shooting down the stretch.
Palm Beach Gardens held a 14-13 lead after the first 8 minutes.
Armani Hayes took over in the second quarter, scoring on three straight possessions to stake the Gators to a 22-17 lead.
Palm Beach Gardens’ lead bloomed to 10 with 1:40 remaining in the first half, as the Gators took advantage of seven second-quarter turnovers by the Jaguars.
At halftime, Palm Beach Gardens led 34-25. Hayes had a team-high nine points after the first 16 minutes, while Quintero led Coral Glades with 10.
A 5-0 Coral Glades run to open the second half cut Palm Beach Gardens’ lead to 34-29, and the score stayed close through the remainder of the third quarter.
The Jaguars pulled within 46-43, and had a chance to tie it at the buzzer on a 3-point attempt, but Quintero’s long shot bounced off the rim.
He didn’t miss to open the final quarter, tying the score on a three-point play, and then putting Coral Glades ahead with a pair of free throws. The Jaguars pulled away from there.
Hayes led the Gators with 13 points, while Nickson Toussaint added 9 and Michael Gooden had 8.