SEMINOLE — There was orange, so much orange from a student section that was clad in it. There was noise, so much noise.
And there was pressure, so much pressure.
Seminole, which had already won its first district title in 26 years and a home playoff game, was trying to advance to the third round for the first time.
It was the other kind of pressure, the one applied by Palmetto’s defense, that was difficult to overcome in a 56-50 loss in Tuesday’s region semifinal.
For a half, everything seemed to be pointing toward the Warhawks (20-4) moving forward. Marco Behori was knocking down shots, including a crucial 3-pointer in the final minute of the second quarter to help Seminole go into the half with a 27-17 lead.
But Palmetto thrived in the pressure, welcomed it, inflicted it. Seminole turned the ball over on its first two possessions to start the third quarter, both of which led to baskets. Suddenly a 10-point lead was reduced to four.
Then came the dagger as Palmetto’s Jarrid Rhodes hit consecutive 3-pointers to give his team the lead. Momentum continued to carry back and forth until late in the fourth quarter when the Tigers closed out the game on a 13-3 run.
“We had the lead at the half, but I wasn’t feeling comfortable at the time,” Warhawks coach Josh Walker said. “I knew Palmetto was going to turn it up a notch. They have a lot of length and took away some our scoring opportunities.
“We had two quick turnovers that led to points and helped get them going.”
After struggling from the perimeter in the first half, the Tigers found their shooting touch as they started draining 3-pointers. More importantly, their defense was swarming and generally making life miserable for anyone wearing orange and green.
Behori finished with a team-high 19 points, including 5-of-6 from the line. But he was unable to do much from long-range and finished with just two 3-pointers.
“Palmetto is a good team that put a lot of pressure on us,” Behori said. “We knew it was going to be a close game, even when we had the lead at the half.”