The frustration for the Perry Hall boys basketball team started early in the third quarter against Eleanor Roosevelt in Thursday's Class 4A state semifinal game.
The No. 12 Gators suddenly couldn't find the basket, had costly turnovers and allowed easy baskets.
By the time they finally regrouped, five minutes had elapsed and the Raiders had poured in 16 straight points.
Despite a late push, it was too much ground for Perry Hall to cover.
Eleanor Roosevelt senior guard Naji Marshall scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half and points came from seven other Raiders as they claimed a 69-59 win over the Gators at Maryland's Xfinity Center.
Perry Hall, which got 17 points from junior Darrell Green, finish the season with a 21-4 mark.
Eleanor Roosevelt, from Prince George's County, improves to 23-3 and will meet Meade in Saturday's title game set for 8 p.m.
For the Gators, who stayed on even terms in the first half and then showed no quit with a late push, the tough third quarter proved their undoing. With a roster made up mostly of underclassmen, they made an impressive account playing in the program's first state tournament.
"I couldn't be more proud — not only the guys, but the school and the community really came together for this game," said Perry Hall coach George Panageotou. "For these young guys— three sophomores, six juniors and four seniors — to come in and perform the way they did against a very experienced and a very good team, I couldn't be more proud."
The third quarter started out well for the Gators, who got a 3-pointer from junior guard James Rider to take a 35-34 lead with 6:13 to play. It would be the last lead they enjoyed this season.
The Raiders went on the 16-0 run with two dunks from Victor Okafor providing the exclamation. By the time Gators sophomore forward Anthony Higgs converted a three-point play, coming with 1:08 left in the quarter, the Raiders were in control with a 50-37 lead.
"I guess at that point we just couldn't keep up with their transition speed. They got down in a hurry," Panageotou said. "We struggled offensively, so we weren't moving well and we took some jumpers which is going to start their transition game. That's exactly what happened — some missed jumpers started their transition and the next thing you knew they got easy layups."
The Gators chipped away in the fourth quarter as Eleanor Roosevelt made only 13 of 26 free throws, missing six straight at one point. They closed to within 62-57 when Rider hit a 3-pointer with 1:38 to play. But Marshall made six of eight free throws the rest of the way to secure the win for the Raiders.
Rider, who finished with 11 points, said the Gators got plenty of mileage from their breakthrough season.
"Almost every big game we played we were never the favorites, so we came out with a chip on our shoulders and ready to go" he said. "And I still believe we should have won today, just because that's the confidence I have in the team and we worked so hard in practice."
A couple of runs highlighted the first half — one from each side — as the teams went into the break tied at 32.
The Raiders, who had seven players score points in the first quarter, enjoyed the first hot streak with seven unanswered points late in the first quarter as Traevon Benjamin's 3-pointer with 1:34 to play provided a 17-9 lead.
But the Gators had their run early in the second quarter to quickly make up ground, getting consecutive 3-pointers from Rider and Green, who finished with 15 in the half, to take a 22-21 lead with 5:46 left in the half.