TAMPA — Blake coach Winston Davis said it came down to experience.
Lakewood had it.
His team didn't.
The battle-tested Spartans turned up the intensity, then turned out the lights on the Yellow Jackets' season, riding its defense and red-hot LaDarius Barnes to a 79-66 win in the Class 4A region semifinals.
Blake (25-5) was coming off its first postseason win since 1969 and just its second overall.
Lakewood, meanwhile, won its 36th postseason game and advanced to the region championship for the 13th time.
"They came out with that intensity; we didn't. We knew what they would do. But they had the experience, they've been there before to play this type of game at this level," Davis said, raising his hand above his head.
Guard Andre Smith tried to keep the Yellow Jackets in it, scoring 33 points, but most of those were during a late, futile rally.
Barnes, a senior guard, outdid the Blake standout, scoring 16 in the second quarter and 39 for the game.
His 3-pointer to start the second quarter made it 17-13, and he added two more, the second of which he was fouled on and converted the four-point play to make it 39-25 right before halftime.
Barnes outscored Blake 16-15 in the quarter.
Lakewood (22-7) extended its lead to as many as 22 points in the second half, before a frantic Yellow Jackets rally almost had some fans forcing their way back into the gym.
Smith scored 10 straight points and George Taliaferro scored inside to cut it to 74-64 with a minute left. But Spartan Mike Singleton made 3-of-4 free throws to seal it.