Lanier girls' comeback just short

GAINESVILLE – Lanier’s girls’ basketball team made a valiant comeback in its Region 8-AAAA quarterfinal tournament game against Eastside.

Unfortunately, the No. 4 seeded Longhorns were in need of a pair of comebacks to pull off the win.

But that second rally never came as Lanier fell 61-51 to No. 5 seed Eastside as the Longhorns’ season comes to a close just one win short of a trip to the state tournament.

“It’s tough in the end in the sport of basketball when only six teams in the state will finish with a win,” said Lanier head coach David Palmer. “I wish we could have gotten this game for the seniors and it would have meant so much for the program. We’ve made way too many strides to have it end like this tonight. But I’m still proud of the effort.”

Lanier started poorly early on and fell behind 15-2 as Eastside’s pressure defense forced the Longhorns to turn the ball over repeatedly.

But Eastside only led 17-10 at the end of the first quarter as Lanier settled down, took care of the basketball and began to force some Eastside turnovers.

That led to a productive second quarter as Lanier eventually took its first lead of the night at 22-20 on Tamar Osborne’s putback with 3:25 to go in the half.

The two teams traded the lead three more times until Lanier scored the final four points of the half to take a 32-29 lead into the locker rooms.

But the third quarter belonged to Eastside as the Eagles outscored Lanier 22-12 and closed the period on a 10-2 run to take a 51-44 lead into the final quarter.

A tired Lanier squad did pull to within 57-51 with 1:19 remaining.

But Lanier could draw no closer as the Longhorns turned the ball over – their 30th of the night – with 42 seconds left and Eastside hit four free throws down the stretch for the 10-point win.

“It took so much out of us making that first run that we just didn’t have anything left at the end,” said Palmer. “Our rotation is just so paper-thin that after we dug ourselves out of that 13-point hole in the first quarter, we were out of gas at the end of the game when we were supposed to be pressing and denying the ball. We just didn’t have anything left.”

Shelby Threlkeld led all scorers in the game with 20 points, including a trio of three-pointers, but only seven in the second half.

Amber Cesair added 12 points, just two after the break, and Lauren Brown had 11 for Lanier (9-16).

Jazzmine Cook led Eastside (12-12) with 17 points while Deshantra Kelly had 13 and Adriana Spears had eight for the Eagles.