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ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood erased the bad memory of two blown leads last week by winning decisively 64-47 over St. Petersburg on Tuesday night. The win puts the Spartans in the PCAC championship game Friday at Clearwater.
Unlike Friday and Saturday, when the Spartans jumped out to leads against Orlando Jones and Port Orange Atlantic only to lose them in the fourth quarter, the Spartans got up early on St. Petersburg and never let up. Alexis Ungro led Lakewood with 20 points. Tianah Alvarado added 19.
“We needed to play better as a team, and in this game we did that,” Alvarado said. “We lost some leads last week and we needed to prove that we could play better.”
The Spartans (18-3) are going to have to keep up the high level of play with the PCAC title game and districts approaching. And they are going to have to do it without senior forward Kasey Drayton. Drayton, out since Dec. 20 with a left thumb injury, is likely out the rest of the season, according to her father, Ken.
Drayton will have a second opinion on the injury next Wednesday, when the district tournament begins. Drayton, a Times’ first-team all-county selection last season, averaged 15 points before the injury.
With Drayton out, Lakewood has relied on Alvarado, Ungro, Siyana Allen and Deja Swinton to provide scoring. Against St. Petersburg, they did.
The Spartans held a 15-9 first-quarter lead then took off in the second quarter. Lakewood started the quarter on an 11-0 run that included seven points from Alvarado. After a Jordan Berenbaum layup broke the streak, Lakewood went on an 11-4 run and took a 37-15 lead into halftime.
“We wanted to handle the press better and we did that,” Spartans coach Necole Tunsil said. “I think it’s all mental and we played well tonight. We needed this.”
Lakewood didn’t let up in the second half and held a 23-point lead going to the fourth quarter.
Berenbaum had a big game on the losing side. She scored a game-high 23. Michael LaShon Everhart added 15 for the Green Devils.
Up next for Lakewood is a showdown with north county champion Clearwater. The Spartans are looking forward to the challenge before the district tournament.
“It’s another game that we get to play and it’s against a good opponent,” Alvarado said. “It’s going to make us better. We’re looking forward to it.”