ST. PETERSBURG — Dan Wright has had to do possibly his best coaching job this season at Lakewood. With an inside game that features no player taller than 6 foot 4, Wright has made key adjustments to help the Spartans to a 19-7 record, including an easy 72-47 win Wednesday over Lakewood Ranch in the semifinals of the 4A-10 playoffs.
Dominic Lane led the Spartans with 21 points and Mike Singleton added 15 as they turned an eight-point lead at halftime into a 64-36 spread by the end of the third quarter.
"We didn't play with a whole lot of intensity for the first eight or nine minutes and then we decided to go small," Wright said. "We're not a great shooting team as we've been in the past so defense is our strength.
"When we're not playing well defensively, then we struggle. We had guys come off the bench that generated a spark that changed things in our favor."
The players Wright praised, Alvin Cunningham (four points), Rasheed Hall (five) and Bernard Reedy Jr. (seven), may not have flashy stats but their play in the second quarter created defensive pressure on the perimeter. The Spartans opened a 12-point lead but the Mustangs (8-16), led by Danny Zarrella (14 points) and Jake Coulton (12), hung around.
Wright kept the bench players in along with Lane and Singleton, and a flurry of steals and easy baskets saw the Spartans open a comfortable lead. After the third quarter, the closest the Mustangs would get was 21 points.
"For us to do well in the playoffs, we'll have to put solid pressure on the ball to prevent any type of consistent game inside for any of our opponents," Wright said. "We have to come out with better intensity than we did tonight, though."