The Mustangs lost to Riverdale High in overtime.
Lakewood Ranch senior Jack Kelley tried to make sense of what happened, but he was mostly left shaking his head.
The Mustangs boys basketball season had come to an end earlier than the team expected thanks to a 64-61 overtime loss to Riverdale High (17-8). Kelley's senior teammate and the program's all-time leading scorer, Damien Gordon, missed the game with a back injury he suffered earlier in the week.
For much of the game, it didn't seem like the Mustangs had a shot. The team's offense struggled without Gordon, and a 10-point Riverdale run at the end of the first half put Lakewood Ranch down 12. After the third quarter, the Mustangs' deficit remained the same.
In the fourth quarter, things finally clicked. Lakewood Ranch mounted a furious comeback led by sophomore Keon Buckley, who hit four three-pointers in the second half. A put-back bucket by Kelley with less than a second remaining tied the game at 59.
In overtime, the team's shooting streak went cold, and the comeback was for nought.
It is the first home loss for the Mustangs since Dec. 2015.
Buckley finished with 18 points. Kelley, who played while battling a sickness, finished with 24 of his own. When he collected his thoughts postgame, he was blunt.
"We were so flat," Kelley said. "They slowed the game down and we didn't play our game. They deserved to win."
Coach Jeremy Schiller was emotional after the game, hugging his players through tears.
"It's my responsibility (for the loss)," Schiller said. "It starts at the top, and I want them to feel comfortable saying that. They left it all out there. I should have done a better job preparing them. I'll use that as motivation in the future. Right now, we just talked about how much we love them.
"You want to give them everything, like you do with your own kids. That's what they are like for me. That's why this is so challenging, because I feel like I wasn't able to give them what they deserved. It's a tough day."
This was the final game for seniors Kelley, Gordon, Evan Spiller and Andrew Dean.
"Everyone on this team, I love," Kelley said. "They love me. It's a bond I'm going to have forever. It can't be taken away from me. Win or lose, they are my brothers."