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Intensity spells trouble at times for Lakewood's Ungro

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Fri. December 16, 2011 | Rodney Page | Email

Intensity spells trouble at times for Lakewood's Ungro

Alexis Ungro has the look. Actually, she has many looks.

During a game the Lakewood junior guard can flash an intense glare at a teammate who mishandles one of her no-look passes.

She can give a wry smile to the opponent who draws the task of trying to guard her.

If a referee makes a questionable call, expect her mouth to widen in disbelief. When she pops a shot from 15 feet, or dives to recover a loose ball, Ungro flashes her mile-wide smile.

There are many faces to Ungro, the Boca Ciega transfer who has stepped into the starting point guard position and raised the energy level a few notches.

“She’s pretty intense,’’ teammate Kasey Drayton said. “It’s a good intense, but yes, pretty intense.’’

Coach Necole Tunsil has a different description of her new point guard.

“She’s my problem child,’’ Tunsil said.

Oh, and there have been some problems with Ungro.

After helping lead Boca Ciega to a state final four appearance as a freshman, Ungro missed the second half of her sophomore season because of a violation of team rules.

Ungro, who is zoned for Lakewood, decided to transfer and play for disciplinarian Tunsil. It has been a rocky road.

After coming home from a weekend trip to Miami, Ungro got in Tunsil’s doghouse and sat out four games. She didn’t return until Wednesday night’s game against St. Petersburg.

“She gets a bad rap all the time,’’ Tunsil said. “Some people were making side bets that she wouldn’t get through the season; it’s ridiculous. But we have a level of expectation for our students here. She had a hard time with that. She was always saying, ‘At Boca Ciega we didn’t have to do this or that.’

“We’ve had to constantly remind her that this is not Boca Ciega. This is Lakewood. We run a totally different program. Alexis had to realize that this is Necole Tunsil’s program.’’

As if to prove she has changed, Ungro was all over the place against the Green Devils. She scored 10 points but more importantly, she ran the point and had floor burns from chasing down loose balls. Her ballhandling and decision-making has helped the Spartans overcome the loss of two key players, Shineice Beamon and Tianah Alvarado, who are out with injuries.

And when she was bumped by St. Petersburg guard Deja Swinton, Ungro said a few words and backed off.

“In the past, Alexis would’ve clocked that girl,’’ Tunsil said.

Ever since her youth league days, Ungro said she knows only one way to play: All-out.

“That’s who I am,’’ she said. “I’ve always played that way. I’m an intense player.’’

Tunsil has seen that kind of player before. The kind who isn’t afraid to call out teammates or take a jab at opposing fans.

“She kind of reminds me of myself when I was a player —intense, a little cocky,” Tunsil said. “I’d be looking up into the stands like she does. I can see all that in Alexis.’’

Despite her confidence, Ungro said it has been a transition fitting in with new teammates.

“I started out kind of slow,’’ she said. “It’s taken me a while to get going with the new team, but now I feel a lot more comfortable. We’re starting to click.’’

Bad news for opponents. Lakewood should get Beamon, who has a slightly sprained left ankle, back by the Queen of the Palms Tournament in two weeks in Fort Myers. Alvarado’s return will be determined by an MRI exam on her injured left knee.

Until then, Lakewood (9-3) will rely on the intensity of Ungro and the inside play of Drayton to continue winning. That is, as long as Ungro can stay on Tunsil’s good side.

“I have no doubt she will,’’ Tunsil said. “No doubt at all.’’

Girls Super 7

1. Palm Harbor University (10-0): Aside from a two-point win over Boca Ciega, the Hurricanes have won the rest by a margin of 25 points.

2. Lakewood (9-3): Spartans stubbed their toe against Sarasota Riverview on Thursday, but they are without two key starters.

3. Clearwater (10-4): Not dominant like in years past, but has won five straight after a close loss to Lakewood.

4. St. Petersburg Catholic (9-2): Only two losses were to public schools Boca Ciega and Clearwater.

5. St. Petersburg (7-1): Loss of Tia Brown is big, but Danielle Daniels and Deja Swinton should step up.

6. Indian Rocks Christian (9-4): Eagles are rolling again after loss to St. Petersburg Catholic. Will spend the break at a holiday tournament in Ohio.

7. Boca Ciega (8-4): The Pirates have been up and down, dominant against the undermanned schools and not quite good enough against the good schools.

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