ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood hadn’t made a 3-point shot all night Friday so getting one down by three with seven seconds remaining seemed like a tall order. So when Siyana Allen’s attempt at the buzzer went through the basket, it didn’t just give the Spartans new life, it seemed to energize them for overtime.
Sure enough, in the extra period the host Spartans (2-3) pulled away from Dixie Hollins for a 59-53 win.
For most of the night Dixie Hollins (3-3) led, thanks largely to Meagan Thomas, who scored all but 14 of her team’s points. In addition to her six 3-pointers, Thomas was aggressive going to the basket — so much so she went to the free-throw line 30 times, sinking 19 attempts.
That aggressiveness carried over into the extra period, but it wasn’t enough as the Spartans played crisp ball.
The first period started out sloppy for both teams, with multiple turnovers. But the Spartans’ game steadily improved. Strong rebounding under their basket late in the game gave them the second and third chances they needed to stay close.
“Perseverance kept us in the game,” said Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil. “Today was a total team effort.”
A basket by Deja Swinton had tied the game at 33 as the fourth quarter began. Dixie Hollins then pulled away to lead 42-34 about midway through the period. It was a lead Lakewood would chip at until it took a late 46-45 advantage. Free throws by Thomas put the Rebels back up 49-46, the prelude to Allen’s heroics.
Allen led Lakewood with 17 points. Latavia Nelson, who scored the game’s final layup, had 12. Aliyah Frazer was also in double digits with 10.
“We’re trying to come into our own and find our way,” Tunsil said of her young team. She noted her current roster is made up of last year’s role players.
“Today’s game was a way of building character. We’re trying to find people who can lead us.”