LAKELAND — Wearing No. 24, Lakeland senior forward Quinton Everett did his best Kobe Bryant imitation in the Dreadnaughts' 76-58 victory over St. Petersburg in a 6A region quarterfinal.
Everett scored the first eight points for Lakeland (23-3), had 13 points at the end of the first quarter and 24 by halftime.
Everett was 5-of-7 from 3-point range in the first half on his way to a game-high 30 points.
"We couldn't stop him," St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell said. "We thought we could contain him, but he had the game of his life. He shot the ball well. Big-time players make big plays, and he made big plays tonight."
Behind Everett, Lakeland raced out to a 12-3 lead early, forcing St. Petersburg (21-6) to play from behind all night. The Green Devils cut the lead to five late in the first, but Lakeland immediately went on a 13-2 run to go ahead by 16. The Dreadnaughts led 40-25 at halftime.
"Their defense really suffocated us in the beginning, and we didn't get good movement off the basketball," Blackwell said. "We kind of rushed some shots, too."
Lakeland held a 35-28 rebound advantage and turned many offensive rebounds into second-chance points.
"I thought the game was decided on the boards," Blackwell said. "…I felt we did a little more looking tonight than attacking the basket."
Eight straight points early in the third quarter from St. Petersburg guard Gabriel Moton, who finished with a double double (17 points, 10 rebounds), brought the Green Devils within nine points. Lakeland, though, scored 12 of the next 14 points, and St. Petersburg was never within single digits of the lead the rest of the game.
Besides Moton, senior forward Anthony Carter had 13 points for St. Petersburg and junior guard Allen Wilson finished with nine.