LARGO -- All good things must come to an end.
For the Lakewood Ranch boys basketball team, the curtain has been drawn on a record-setting season.
Thanks to a strong fourth quarter, Largo Pinellas Park ended the Mustangs' dream season with a 51-43 victory Thursday in a Class 7A-Region 3 quarterfinal. The Patriots will take a 17-11 record into a regional semifinal.
Recording a school-record 20 victories during the regular season, Lakewood Ranch finishes the campaign with a 21-7 mark.
"I thought both teams battled their tails off," Lakewood Ranch coach Jeremy Schiller said. "At the end of the day, our kids fought, battled, and they just made more plays than we did.
"Right now it hurts. You hate to see it end because tomorrow we don't practice. Tomorrow we'll sit and reflect on the great things we accomplished. Cameron Darby said it best on Senior Night: They're a group of brothers. And they're all my kids."
On the other side, Pinellas Park coach Nick Miller got pretty much what he expected from the Mustangs.
"We played Lakewood Ranch in the preseason, went to overtime and lost by four," he said. "So we knew we were going to come in here and have a dogfight. Coach Schiller does a great job, and they do everything the right way."
Pinellas Park captured the win despite falling behind.
After a Darby bucket gave the Mustangs a 10-8 lead, Pinellas Park would not lead again until the 5-minute, 21-second mark of the final quarter after a Alanzo Brown basket made it a 33-32 game. The Patriots would finish the contest with an 18-11 advantage.
"I thought we came down and missed a couple opportunities we usually finish and they made a few in that run," Schiller said. "We knew it was going to be a game of
finishes. They made a few more plays than we did and won the game."
In between leads, Pinellas Park was never out of striking distance.
Holding a 13-10 lead after the first eight minutes, Lakewood Ranch led by as many as seven points (20-13) at 5:09 of the second quarter after a Brock Sisson hoop. But the Patriots fought back, cutting their deficit to 22-21 on a Brown basket just ahead of the halftime buzzer.
The Mustangs didn't fold and took a 32-30 margin into the final period, but Pinellas Park came through down the stretch.
"Our guys just stayed with it," Miller said. "We had three or four steals and finally started finishing a few layups, but really I felt our defense made the difference. To hold a team to 43 points with as many shooters as they have is a testament to these guys buying into a defensive system."
One of just two seniors on the roster, Darby finished with 13 points to lead Lakewood Ranch. Matt Muscara is the other Mustang senior.
"Cameron came in and played great; he played his best game of the season," Schiller said. "He played like a warrior the whole time. My seniors came to play and did a great job.
"Right now I wish I could have done more to help my seniors. In my heart they deserved to move on. They've (helped) change the entire culture of Lakewood Ranch basketball -- they made history."
Dzenan Husetoric totaled 16 points to lead Pinellas Park, followed by Terrell Whitaker with 11 points.
"Coach Miller does an awesome job," Schiller said. "I hope he gets the credit he deserves. Moving on to a regional semifinal in a really tough area is impressive."