ST. PETERSUBRG — Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil is used to lighting a fire under her team. In Wednesday's district semifinal, Tianah Alvarado and Kayla Roberts got the message. Alvarado scored 22, pulled down 17 rebounds and had five steals while Roberts added 15 points and four assists to lead the Spartans to a 65-48 win over Palmetto.
"I have to keep telling Kayla and Tianah that they're the fire of this team," Tunsil said. "As they go, so goes the team."
Lakewood fell behind early but Roberts sparked a 13-0 run and the Spartans led 17-8 after the first quarter. The Spartans forced nine turnovers in the quarter.
Palmetto opened the second quarter with a 9-3 run. Ashley Smith capped the run with a 3-pointer to make the score 20-17. Five straight points from Alvarado and a layup by Shineice Beamon extended the Lakewood lead to six at halftime.
"Keep in mind we're a young team," Tunsil said. "We get up and sometimes allow teams to get back in it."
Lakewood blew open the game in the third quarter, outscoring Palmetto 22-11. The spark was a technical foul on Tunsil after Palmetto was dominating the glass.
"I was upset but the whole premise was that we're up by 12 and not playing like we can," Tunsil said. "If you're the better team, play like it for four quarters."
The teams traded baskets in the fourth quarter until it was time to empty the benches.
"I just hate to sit on our talent," Tunsil said. "We need to demonstrate dominance for an entire game."
Alvarado and Roberts got help from Beamon, who scored 12 and grabbed six rebounds. Kasey Drayton pitched in 12 points and eight rebounds while Taye'lor Trotter added six points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Alyssa Ward led the Tigers with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists. Blair Thomas added 12 points.