ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil thinks playing rock-solid defense for 32 minutes is the best formula for success in basketball.
"Even if you're not shooting, you can win," Tunsil said.
In Thursday night's Class 4A first-round game against Spoto, Lakewood's defense was the difference. Tunsil's Spartans pressured every ball-handler, challenged every shot, and were incredibly aggressive on the boards, all of which helped lead to easy baskets on the other end in a comfortable 72-37 win.
"It's all about defense," Lakewood point guard Latesha Johnson said. "That really got us going."
For Spoto (19-7), it was a humbling end to an otherwise solid season. Spoto had never before reached the playoffs and set a school record for wins.
"We're a young team," Spoto coach Mareka Davis said. "We're looking to get back here next year."
Johnson, who scored 14, was one of four Lakewood players in double figures. Taye'lor Trotter led all players with 17, Kayla Roberts added 15 and Jenae Wilson had 10.
Brianna Thomas paced Spoto with 16.
Lakewood (21-5) began to separate from its opponent midway through the first quarter, and by halftime it was 38-19.
Many of Spoto's turnovers (Lakewood steals) led to fastbreak chances . Lakewood also played solid halfcourt offense.