It wasn't a great start for the Island Coast Gators. That meant the finish wasn't great either.
Island Coast (3-6) fell behind 25-8 after one quarter Friday night and dropped a 71-52 decision to Palmetto in the first round of the Mariner Christmas Tournament.
The Gators regrouped after the first quarter, coming within nine points at 52-43 with 21 seconds to play in the third period. The game was still not decided until Palmetto (9-1) scored the game's final eight points.
"We kind of hung around, hung around, hung around, but we couldn't get that one break to get over the hump," Gators coach Greg Coleman said. "We'd cut it to nine and couldn't get the box-out or couldn't get an offensive rebound or something like that."
Palmetto came out of the gates running, scoring the game's first 13 points before Sonel Mathurin got the Gators on the board.
"We could very easily have packed it in right there in the first period," Coleman said. "They jumped on us. Their athleticism could have taken over, but we showed good character in trying to hang around. We just couldn't get over that hump."
The Gators actually outscored the Tigers over the second and third quarters and were even in the fourth until Palmetto's closing 8-0 run.
Morgan Foreman started slowly, but led the Gators with 22 points, 13 in the second half. Mathurin finished with 13 points.
Jordan Young scored 17 points and Stephen Saunders and Jarrid Rhodes 15 each for Palmetto.
Coleman said the tournament gives the Gators a chance to get a look at teams they wouldn't play otherwise.
The Gators face Charlotte at 2:15 p.m. Saturday in a consolation game. The Tarpons lost 67-60 to Estero Friday.
"We haven't seen Charlotte," Coleman said. "Playing a team like Palmetto, we're not going to see a team like that around here, and we get to play Charlotte tomorrow. We don't play them in the regular season.
"It doesn't get any easier. So this is the type of stuff that's going to make us better to try and make our fourth consecutive regionals."
Palmetto takes on Estero at 5:45 p.m. today.
Palmetto 25 16 13 17 - 71?Island Coast 8 19 16 9 - 52
PALMETTO (71) - Saunders 15, Cook 9, Deq. Washington 2, Dea. Washington 4, Garcia 2, Rhodes 15, Edwards 2, Young 17, Anderson 2, Collins 3. Totals: 27 16-21 71. 3PG: Rhodes 1. ?ISLAND COAST (52) - Casimir 9, Thomas 2, King 3, Grimm 3, Foreman 22, Mathurin 13. Totals: 19 7-12 52. 3PG: Casimir 2, King 1, Grimm 1, Foreman 3.