ST. PETERSBURG — In a final that felt like a sprint, Lakewood outlasted Boca Ciega 56-45 Friday to win the district 5A-12 championship.
The Pirates held a 29-28 edge after two up-tempo quarters, during which Boca Ciega’s Dallas Moore led all scorers with 13 points. The biggest lead for either team was five, when Lakewood scored nine unanswered points over the first and second quarters to go up 16-11.
The pace increased in the second half, as both teams frequently slashed to the basket. Lakewood scored the first five points of the third quarter to build a slim lead it would never relinquish. Contested shots in the paint at both ends and sloppy ball-handling kept the game close.
Moore’s first basket of the second half came midway through the fourth quarter to bring the Pirates within 48-45. That was as close as the visitors would get. Jacobi Boykins’ slam dunk with just more than three minutes on the clock gave the Spartans a 52-45 lead, a score that would not change until less than a minute remained.
Three Lakewood players reached double figures, including Boykins (10), Shabazz Waller (14) and Alonzo Smith (11).
Spartans coach Anthony Lawrence credited Boca Ciega with forcing his team to make adjustments, much as it did in a Jan. 10 matchup that ended with a 59-45 Spartans win.
“We wanted to pick the pace up in the second half,” Lawrence said, referencing the Pirates’ attempt to play a slower game.
For the Lakewood coach, the victory soothed a pain that began 24 years ago, when Lakewood lost to St. Petersburg in the district final.
“I had an empty feeling (after that game),” Lawrence said. “To come back and as a coach get a district title, it don’t hurt no more.”