FLORENCE — The Florence Buffaloes faced an uphill battle. An 11-point deficit with 2:33 remaining wasn’t the best situation to be in, but if some Thrall fans thought the game was in hand, it was far from over for Florence post Christian Gomez.
“We were still in the game, we weren’t out,” Gomez said. “We wanted to fight.
“We were making shots, we were missing shots, but we were trying.”
Despite a late charge, the Buffaloes lost to Thrall 55-49 on Tuesday at the Florence High gym.
Gomez scored a team-high 16 points and guard Alfredo Pena added 10 in the loss.
“We really wanted to win,” Pena said. “We knew we were in the game and our home crowd got us pumped up. We decided to play, but it didn’t come out the way we wanted.”
Mason Lansford also had a solid game with nine points for Florence.
With Florence (4-3) trailing 51-40, a Luke McNeil putback of a missed free throw sparked a 9-0 Buffaloes run that saw Florence make it a 51-49 game with 1:09 remaining.
Gomez hit the first of two free throws to cap the run, but Florence came up a couple of plays short.
“I hope they learn from it,” Florence coach Danny Wood said. “They better, or it’s going to be a long season.”
After Thrall hit one of two shots from the line, McNeil hit an open Michael Hoisington, but his drive to the lane was unsuccessful.
Thrall iced the game by hitting 3 of 5 free throws in the final 30 seconds.
Wood referred back to the third quarter as a big reason why Florence dropped the game.
The Buffaloes came into the second half facing a one-point deficit, but the Buffaloes shot just 28 percent (2 of 7) from the field.
“We just did not play well in the third quarter,” Wood said. “We did not come out after halftime ready to play basketball. That’s the difference in the game.”
Florence was plagued with a field goal drought in the second and third quarters that lasted 8:24.
“We’re going to have to play all four quarters,” Gomez said. “We didn’t show up in the third quarter like we should have. If we put in all four quarters, we’ll be OK.”
The Buffaloes opened the game with a 2-3 zone and held the Tigers to just 12- for-28 (42 percent) shooting in the first half.
Gomez also had his presence felt early on as he helped Florence dominate the paint in rebounds. The Buffaloes finished the game with a 32-23 edge on the boards, including a 19-12 advantage in the first half.
The Buffaloes trailed by as many as nine points in the second quarter before Gomez helped get the team going.
His bucket in the paint and a foul led to a 3-point play the sparked a 10-2 run that was capped by a Hoisington 3-pointer.
Hoisington’s shot from beyond the arc cut the Thrall lead to 23-22 and forced the Tigers to call timeout. Thrall took a 28-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Florence hosts Lago Vista on Friday.