ST. PETERSBURG — If there was one deficiency Lakewood had this season, it was the lack of a true post player.
Robinson exploited that weakness Thursday. Whether they were pounding the ball in to Tre Leonard on the low post or driving hard to the basket, the Knights worked their inside game to perfection in a 92-77 win.
“We tried to hide the fact that we don’t a big guy in the post as much as we could,” Lawrence said. “We couldn’t do that tonight. Robinson did a great job inside and really beat us on the glass.”
It didn’t take long for the Knights to discover the Spartans were an inviting team to attack in the paint. With Leonard posting and the guards slashing, Robinson went up 17-14 after the first quarter and led 39-30 at halftime.
Most of the damage was done by Leonard, who finished with 26 points, including a handful of two-handed dunks.
“Lakewood is a tough physical team that can get up and down the floor,” Knights coach Steve Smith said. “I felt like we were able to match their toughness, and we were fortunate enough to answer whenever it looked like they were going to make a run.”
After the Spartans cut the lead to 39-34 at the start of the third quarter, Robinson responded by working the ball inside to go ahead by double digits. Trailing by as much as 19 in the fourth quarter, Lakewood rallied to make it 70-60 with four minutes remaining but could not get any closer.
The loss marks the first time the Spartans and Boca Ciega lost in the first round in the same season.
“I thought once we got it down to 10 we might have a chance,” Lawrence said. “But every time we’d make a play, they would make more.”
Shabazz Waller led Lakewood with 18 points.