ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood coach Dan Wright knew his opponent would try to limit his team's possessions by slowing the tempo Thursday. That strategy kept Jesuit in the game for 16 minutes. Then the Tigers' zone defense fell apart and the Spartans played their style, slashing the lane and playing disruptive defense on their way to a 51-29 drubbing of the Tigers in a 4A region quarterfinal.
"I was kind of upset that we were taking quick shots," said Wright. "We decided to go to the small lineup. I think the steals that we were able to get allowed us to spread the floor offensively. Then they just didn't have the speed and quickness to stay with our guys."
In the first half that quickness was missing. The Spartans opened just 8-of-21 from the field and fired 10 shots from beyond the arc. With other starters struggling, senior Dominic Lane took it upon himself to keep Lakewood in front. He scored nine of his game-high 18 in the first half. The Spartans held a slim 19-15 advantage at halftime.
"I tried to get in the lane and get my teammates the ball," said Lane. "I tried to get the ball so they would all crash in on me and try to kick it back out. I just tried to control the offense."
Lakewood turned its defense up a notch in the second half, forcing 12 of its 20 turnovers in the second 60 minutes. As Jesuit lost control of the tempo on the offensive end, Lakewood was able to utilize its speed on offense. The Spartans more than equaled their first half output in a quarter, outscoring the Tigers 20-6 in the third.
Lane continued to be effective in the second half, finishing 8-of-10 with five rebounds and four steals.