TITUSVILLE — Defending state champion Lakewood is headed back to Lakeland.
The Spartans held off Titusville 56-51 Saturday night in a Class 5A region final to advance to Thursday’s state semifinals. They’ll face Fort Lauderdale Dillard, which prevailed 71-33 over Estero.
Kasey Drayton scored 19 for the Spartans, and Alexis Ungro tallied 18. Their contributions helped offset those of Titusville’s Yvonna Prince, who totaled a game-high 20, and Jasmine Henshaw’s 13 points.
Titusville held a 12-9 advantage after the first quarter, but the Spartans rallied late in the second to even the score at 22 at halftime. Drayton had six points in the frame for the Spartans while Ungro added five.
The third quarter belonged to Lakewood (20-10) as the Spartans surged out to a lead that grew as large as 14 points late before Prince’s 3-point shot cut it to 11. Ungro scored eight points in the quarter, and Shineice Beamon had four.
Titusville stormed back in the fourth quarter, pulling within 49-48 thanks to two free throws from Prince with two minutes to go. But the Terriers were unable to seize the lead.
Lakewood increased its margin to 54-48 thanks in part to field goals made by Beamon and Jacquette Green, who finished with 10 points.
Prince made another 3-pointer with about 20 seconds left to pull Titusville (18-7) within three, but Lakewood nailed two free throws to account for the final margin.
“We were pretty balanced,” Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil said. “We didn’t have anyone go off for 20 points or anything, and that’s the way we want it. We got up by about 11 or 12 in the third quarter, then to their credit, Titusville came back. We also made some stupid mistakes.
“But our defense held strong and we made free throws down the stretch. Our defense has been carrying us this season.”
Times staff writer Rodney Page contributed to this report.