Lipson Scores 26, Coral Reef Comes Up Short

Benjamin Lipson had the home crowd cheering nearly every one of his shots in the fourth quarter on senior night.

Lipson poured in 15 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth for Coral Reef in a 77-69 loss to Palmetto.

“He’s got one of the sweetest jump shots,” Coral Reef coach Glenford Hyatt said. “To see him heat it up like that on senior night was real nice.”

Lipson shot 10 for 18 in the game with six 3-pointers and only missed one of his seven shots in the final quarter.

“It was fun,” Lipson said. “I didn’t expect all of these people to be here. It was nice. I just wanted to keep the game close and make it entertaining.”

Lipson, one of eight seniors who were honored at halftime, helped pull Coral Reef (8-13) within 68-60 with 2:41 left in the game. The Barracudas had the ball looking to find their senior sharpshooter, but Nader Gustinvil was whistled for an illegal screen and Palmetto never let Coral Reef get any closer the rest of the way.

Senior Jahel Bowen added 14 points and 11 rebounds while senior Freddy Polanco chipped in seven points for the only other Coral Reef player to score more than four.

Palmetto (18-5) played without four starters. Senior Gary Bess led the way with 22 points while senior Josmel Martinez had 14 points and six rebounds and sophomore Marcos Molina had 13 points and five assists.

The Panthers built an 18-10 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 39-27 at the break.

“We missed some easy shots early on,” Hyatt said. “We had good looks at some baskets underneath, but we couldn’t convert and they got a 10-point lead on us.”

Coral Reef trailed by 15 going into the fourth, but a 30-point frame was not enough with Palmetto nearly matching Lipson’s hot shooting making 7 of 9 shots from the floor and sinking all nine of their free-throw attempts.

“We couldn’t get our rotation back on the press and they made some layups,” Hyatt said.

Coral Reef’s leading scorer, freshman Jimel Lane, and another top player, freshman Levertis Williams Jr., did not enter the game until midway through the third quarter with Lane being the 15th and final Coral Reef player to see action in the game.

“We wanted to give the seniors an opportunity to play,” Hyatt said. “They wanted to honor the seniors so most of the seniors played in the first half.”

Both Lane and Williams Jr. were on the bench for the final minutes of the game with Coral Reef looking to come back.

PALMETTO 77, CORAL REEF 69

Palmetto 18 21 15 23 - 77

Coral Reef 10 17 12 30 – 69

Palmetto (18-5) – Hall 2-3 0-0 6, Zabari 0-1 0-0 0, Lopez 4-13 4-4 14, Molina 5-7 1-1 13, Martinez 6-10 2-2 14, Bess 7-9 8-8 22, Marshall 4-5 0-2 8, Pineyro 0-1 0-0, 0. Totals 28-49 15-17 77.

Coral Reef (8-13) – Bowen 4-16 4-5 14, Polanco 2-7 2-2 7, Lovett 1-3 0-2 2, Bayon 1-1 0-0 2, Lipson 10-18 0-0 26, Clarington 0-1 0-0 0, Rivas 0-1 0-0 0, Hunte 0-1 0-0 0, Lucky 2-5 0-0 4, Gustinvil 0-0 0-0 0, Cruz 2-3 0-0 4, Frater-Headley 1-3 0-0 2, Williams Jr. 0-3 1-2 1, Clark 1-4 0-0 3, Lane 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 26-71 7-11 69.

3-point goals — Palmetto 6 (Molina 2, Lopez 2, Hall 2),

Coral Reef 10 (Lipson 6, Bowen 2, Polanco, Clark).

Total fouls — Palmetto 7, Coral Reef 14. Fouled out – none.