As poorly as Saturday's playoff game started for Lakeview Academy, it put together a second-half rally that was almost enough in a 70-60 loss to Aquinas in a first round Class A game in Gainesville.
Trailing by 17 at halftime, the Lions (22-6) steadily chipped away at the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish's (23-6) lead and drew to within two points with five minutes left to play on one of Austin Pearson's six second-half 3-pointers.
"Our team played extremely hard and the way they competed in the second half was outstanding," Lions coach Seth Vining said. "That's the way we're supposed to play the whole game."
With the loss, Lakeview's season is now finished.
Pearson finished the game with 22 points, all in the second half for the Lions.
After cutting Aquinas' lead to 51-43 by the end of the third quarter, the senior Pearson hit a 3-pointer right away early in the fourth quarter.
His next 3-pointer came just two minutes later from the corner. It hit off the backboard and brought the Lions to within one basket for the first time since the opening minute of play.
"We knew coming into the game that Pearson was an amazing shooter," Aquinas coach Santos Pagan said. "Our main focus was to limit his opportunities and contain their center (Austin Montgomery)."
However, 51-49 was as close as the Lions would get in a game in which they never held the lead.
Leading by two points, Aquinas' leading scorer Ahmed Hill (25 points) responded immediately with a 3-pointer.
Then on its next possession, Aquinas' Michael Scott (12 points, eight assists, five steals) drew an intentional foul, buried the front end of two free throws, then hit a basket once his team got the ball for its next possession.
"We told the kids to stay focused because basketball is a game of runs and we knew Lakeview was capable of coming back because they're a great team," Pagan said.
Ray Thompkins put the Fighting Irish up by double digits with back-to-back baskets with 3:00 left to play.
Pearson, again, knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes of play for Lakeview.
Aquinas started the game with a huge run, leading 10-2 with 5:45 still remaining in the opening period, and stretched it out to 24-6 still in the first quarter.
Hill, a guard, started the game with a pair of midrange jump shots to put the Fighting Irish ahead 6-0 early.
Aquinas also scored eight of its first 10 points off of Lakeview turnovers.
Hill hit Corey Gomillion on a pass downcourt for a lay-up to push their lead to 16-4 just midway through the first quarter.
"Hill's a really nice player who has a nice touch on his shots," Vining said.
The Fighting Irish also had solid play from 6-foot-6, 300 pound center Willie Calloway, who was in a battle all night with Lakeview's Montgomery (15 points).
Lakeview played most of the game without senior Matt Askounis, who went down with a back injury in the second quarter.
With the win, Aquinas advance to face Mount Pisgah in the second round Tuesday.