"We looked like we were playing in slow motion," Canes assistant coach Darrell Demastus said. "We just didn't play very well. It was probably one of the worst games, if not the worst game, we played all year."
"You had kids that were shooting and wouldn't hit a thing," Demastus continued. "We just had one of those nights. We just had a bad night on the wrong night."
The Ramblers' Jarrod Beamon scored each of his 20 points in the second half as LaFayette turned a 20-19 halftime deficit into a seven-point lead, with Beamon connecting on three 3-pointers to give his team a 38-31 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Beamon pumped in 11 fourth-quarter points to finish of Cartersville. Josh Morgan and Jordan Teems each added 13 points for the Ramblers (19-5).
Talique Cochran scored 18 points for the Canes (4-17) and Devin O'Connor had 12.
Cochran, Cartersville's do-it-all point guard, was coming off a tough week where he missed three days of school and lost 16 pounds due to a bout with the flu, Demastus said.
"A lot of people don't realize that Talique missed a lot of school last week ... yet he still scored 18 points," he said.
But, Cartersville's leader clearly was not his usual self.
"You could tell he was a step slow," Demastus added.
The first-round loss brings to an end a season where the Canes lost their last 10 games.
"If you go back and look at the season, we lost 11 games by under five points. It's hard to swallow that," Demastus said. "We've [he and head coach Dennis Godfrey] been in Cartersville [for] 10 years, and it's the second time we haven't made it to the state playoffs."
In 18 years coaching alongside Godfrey, who previously led the Dalton program, Demastus said it still marks only the second time missing out on the state tournament.
"I don't know what it's like to go home Feb. 15 and not have practice tomorrow."
Yet, that is the reality of Cartersville, which will try to reclaim some of its lost mojo from last season, when it qualified for state.
"It's got to be important to the kids," Demastus said. "They're gonna have to start working on shooting and stuff like that."
He added that the Canes have a great freshman class to build upon.
-- Information from The Daily Citizen was used in this article.