ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood’s Maya Madry and Jacquette Green are two of the smallest players on the court. But in Tuesday’s Class 5A region semifinal against Bradenton Southeast, they came up big.
Madry, who is barely 5 feet, scored 10 and played menacing defense. Green added 13 points, including two 3-pointers, to help lead Lakewood to a 57-48 win.
“This was a game we just had to win,” Madry said. “We had to prove that everyone on our team can step up. If we play well, then it takes a load off the other players.”
Lakewood’s “other” players are known as the Big Three. Kasey Drayton (13 points), Alexis Ungro (11) and Shineice Beamon (eight) played their usual consistent game. But it was the contributions of Madry and Green that made Lakewood tough Tuesday.
“Without them, we struggle,” Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil said.
The first half was tightly contested, with no team having more than a five-point cushion. Momentum started to change at the end of the second quarter when Green made a 3-pointer with two seconds left.
She started the third quarter with another 3-pointer and Lakewood began to roll. Madry followed with a layup and a free throw, and minutes later the Spartans (19-10) were on a 15-2 run and leading 38-21 midway through the third.
Southeast (24-6) chipped into the lead early in the fourth quarter and had the score down to 43-34 with six minutes remaining. Then Drayton got busy with two straight layups to frustrate the Seminoles.
It also frustrated the vocal Southeast crowd, which was large and boisterous. With three minutes left, a Southeast fan was removed from the gym for arguing with an official. It was the third straight time this season a Southeast fan was removed from a game against Lakewood.
The Spartans made their free throws down the stretch and didn’t let the Seminoles get to within single digits until the final shot.
“(Madry and Green) hear so much chatter about how Lakewood only has those three players,” Tunsil said. “They don’t get the respect they deserve. Hey, they didn’t even make the senior (all-star) game. So they have something to prove and they are stepping up.
“They were the key, and they should get the recognition they deserve.”