EAST LAKE ― Despite a higher seeding and home-court advantage, East Lake still needed to play a near perfect game to upset Charlotte on Thursday night in its Class 6A region quarterfinal. Not only were the Tarpons 20-game winners, they were also ranked 163 spots higher than East Lake in the MaxPreps state rankings (39, 202).
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they were far from perfect. They were out-shot, out-rebounded and out-hustled in a 70-35 loss. Charlotte (21-3) will play at Braden River on Tuesday night, a rematch of last week’s district final. East Lake ends its season 20-8.
“They get all the credit in the world,” East Lake coach Ryan Quigley said. “They out-rebounded us, shot lights out and outworked us.”
The Tarpons arrived late for the game due to traffic, but it clearly didn’t bother them. Bella Desjardins made the first three 3-pointers she took and Makenzie Carter hit two layups, and just like that they were up 13-0. Whitney Rush snapped the scoring streak with a layup, but by the end of the first quarter the Eagles were in a 17-3 hole.
While the scoring picked up for East Lake in the second half, the defense still had trouble stopping Charlotte. The Eagles closed within 26-14 late in the second when Vanessa Galiano made a 3-pointer. But Desjardins, who led all scorers with 24 points, and Carter kept making baskets.
The lone first-half highlight for East Lake came just before halftime when Rush made a half-court shot at the buzzer to cut the lead to 30-17.
Any momentum was taken away quickly when Desjardins started the third quarter with a 3-pointer. Charlotte started attacking the basket and got more free throws in the third. The Tarpons made six straight to extend the lead and went on an 8-0 run to end the third and essentially put the game out of reach.
Both teams used their bench in the fourth quarter.
While the loss was by 35 points, it wasn’t a running clock because the final points came in the last few seconds. This was the biggest deficit in a loss for the Eagles since a 40-point defeat to Clearwater in November.
“They fought back a little bit, but not enough," Quigley said. “We’re a young group with just one senior (Raygen Bostick). The turnovers just kept piling up. We weren’t getting rebounds. Makes for a bad night.”
Rush was a bright spot for East Lake. She scored 19 points and made all eight of her free throws. Bostick was the next highest scorer with six points.
Charlotte had three players score in double figures and had seven players score overall.
Games at 7 p.m. Tuesday
7A: No. 4 North Port at No. 1 Plant
6A: No. 4 Strawberry Crest at No. 1 Winter Haven
6A: No. 3 St. Cloud at No. 2 Tampa Bay Tech
5A: No. 4 Cape Coral at No. 1 Jefferson
4A: No. 4 Lakewood at No. 1 Cocoa
4A: No. 6 Eustis at No. 2 Wesley Chapel
3A: No. 5 Brooks DeBartolo at No. 1 Carrollwood Day
3A: No. 3 Benjamin at No. 2 Seffner Christian
2A: No. 5 Donahue Catholic at No. 1 Keswick Christian
2A: No. 3 First Baptist at No. 2 Hernando Christian