ST. PETERSBURG — Battling a cold she got from coach Necole Tunsil and bruised ribs she got in the region semifinal against Boca Ciega, Lakewood guard Alexis Ungro was in pretty bad shape when she left midway through the fourth quarter of Saturday’s region final against Lake Wales.
The Spartans led by only a point, but Ungro needed a few minutes to catch her breath. Once she did, she had a message for Tunsil.
“Not tonight, Coach,” Ungro said.
Ungro re-entered, dribbled upcourt, got fouled while making a layup and converted the three-point play that gave the Spartans a four-point lead. From there, Lakewood held off Lake Wales 47-42.
The Spartans (23-6) will play in their third straight state tournament in Lakeland on Friday against Tallahassee Rickards.
“I didn’t want to lose,” Ungro said. “I wanted to go back to states. The score was close and that seemed to be the game changer. After that, we had the momentum.”
Earlier in the season, Lakewood blew two big fourth-quarter leads against out of area teams. It looked as if the Spartans were going to do it again for a third and final time.
The Spartans led 26-17 at halftime and 39-31 after three. Then things started to unravel when the Highlanders went on a run.
Lake Wales (18-12) scored seven unanswered points to start the quarter and cut the lead to 39-38.
Lakewood turned the ball over four straight times during the run and also missed three shots. Then with just under four minutes to play, Ungro made her three-point play, Lakewood’s first points of the quarter.
Kyah Woody followed with a free throw, Tianah Alvarado nailed a 10-footer and Deja Swinton made a layup.
With a minute to go, Lakewood built a 47-40 lead and Lake Wales couldn’t come back.
“That’s where those games we play against teams outside of Pinellas County start to matter,” Tunsil said. “They remember that and say, ‘Not tonight. Not on our watch.’ That’s what it’s about.”
Alvarado, who missed last season with a knee injury, led Lakewood with 15 points. Swinton had 11 and Ungro had nine. Shayla Sewell had 12 for Lake Wales. Zeda Williams added 10.
Lakewood won a Class 4A state championship in 2011 and lost in the semifinals last season. Tunsil credited the effort of Siyana Allen, Swinton, Alvarado and especially Ungro for the third straight state tournament appearance.
“Lex took off that white shirt she had on under her jersey and got in her warrior clothes,” Tunsil said. “She played ball like she normally does. She was dehydrated the whole game and we were trying to get her fluids. She did a great job.”
3A: Warriors net first trip to state
NAPLES — Calvary Christian’s girls basketball team moved to beyond the 3-point line Saturday night in its region title game and earned its first berth in the state final four.
Senior point guard Caroline Andreassen scored 15 points as the Warriors beat Community School of Naples 47-39 in Class 3A region final, ending the Seahawks’ four-year streak of region titles.
The Warriors netted eight 3-point goals, including four in the first quarter, to get off to a hot start.
Calvary Christian (25-3) meets Daytona Beach Father Lopez in the state final four Wednesday in Lakeland.
The Warriors led most of the game, but Community School hung close at the end. The Seahawks pulled within five points in the final two minutes. Andreassen’s 3-pointers in the fourth helped clinch it.
“It was an incredible team effort tonight,” Calvary Christian coach Brooke Sibert said. “It was important to shoot well early. It mean a lot to come to an away school like this and step it up. All of our girls worked hard from beginning to end.”
Haley Nadeau led Community School (24-6) with 15 points.
“We showed a lot of toughness and defense in the end,” Sibert said. “When there’s five girls playing well and a bench cheering them on, you can’t lose. I’m very proud of everyone’s effort here.”
The Warriors started off to a 10-3 lead, then held a 21-13 advantage by the end of the quarter thanks to hot shooting from beyond the arc.
In the second, Calvary eventually opened up a 12-point lead. Community School, meanwhile, only hit two field goals in the frame, and the Warriors took a 29-20 lead into halftime.
The Seahawks neutralized the Warriors’ perimeter game in the third and cut it to only a 37-31 lead after three.
Savannah Plentovich had 11 points for the Warriors, and Carley Plentovich added 10.
Thomas P. Corwin, Special to the Times