OCOEE — The Ocoee Knights held a double-digit lead in the third quarter but could not hold on Wednesday night as the Knights, ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 8A, fell to the top-ranked Evans Trojans, 65-58.
After leading 40-30 early in the third quarter, the Knights (18-4) found themselves struggling with the size and speed of the Trojans (18-5) and were outscored 35-18 the rest of the way.
"(Evans) got out in transition and they finished every play ... it brought them back into the game and gave them the momentum," Ocoee coach Rob Gordon said. "We couldn't recapture the momentum."
Deloran Oliver led the Trojans with 20 points, while Kerry Blackshear added 16 points and Courtney Williamson had 12 on the night.
Ocoee was led by Grant Riller's 24 points and 17 points from Vaughn McCall. Riller fouled out with a little over two minutes to play, putting the Knights in a pinch as they struggled to make shots down the stretch.
The two teams will likely meet again at the Class 8A District 3 Tournament, which will begin Feb. 2 and end on Feb. 7 and will be held at Olympia High School.
Wednesday's game drew a near-capacity crowd at Ocoee and afterward, even in spite of the Knights' loss, Gordon said he was appreciative of the strong showing for the matchup of elite programs in Florida.
"Our two teams are high-level teams and they're very deserving of a great crowd," Gordon said. "I'm glad for the environment — it was nice."