ST. PETERSBURG — It has been a familiar sight for many years in Lakewood's cozy gym: A team uses a suffocating full-court press to frustrate its opponent until the lead gets so large that a running clock is needed in the second half.
Usually, that team is Lakewood.
But on Wednesday night, St. Petersburg turned the tables in a convincing 70-39 girls basketball victory over the Spartans. The Green Devils (10-0) caused 24 Lakewood turnovers and had three players score in double figures. Jordan Berenbaum led all scorers with 20, Angel Brown added 18 and Michael LaShon Everhart had 13.
"We want to keep them from running their offense, get their heads messed up," Brown said. "If they get frustrated then it's easier for us to play defense and score."
It took a few minutes for St. Petersburg to frustrate Lakewood, but after that it was all Green Devils. Trailing 7-4 early, St. Petersburg went on a 12-2 run to end the first quarter.
Then the Green Devils scored the first 12 points of the second quarter and held a 28-9 lead with five minutes left in the half. Brown, Berenbaum and Everhart continued to get easy shots off turnovers and St. Petersburg led 40-22 at halftime.
"Our whole thing is trying to take the ball out of the person's hand who is used to having it and see what they can do," St. Petersburg coach Tamika Coley said. "Try to make them make mistakes and get some layups."
The outcome was not in doubt in the second half, but the deep Green Devils continued to press and score. A 10-0 run in the third quarter made it 52-28.
Things got even worse in the fourth quarter for the Spartans. The Green Devils scored the first 11 points of the quarter and led 70-34. That forced a running clock for the final five minutes.
Not only was St. Petersburg motivated to beat rival Lakewood (4-5), but it was also playing for Coley, whose mother passed away earlier in the week.
"That was our No.1 motivation," Berenbaum said. "We wanted to play well for Coach."
Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil, who has four freshmen on the varsity roster, said this season might be about taking some lumps.
"We're young and dumb and immature and impatient and inexperienced," Tunsil said. "We've taken some steps forward, but then we take some steps backward. But I don't want them to get weighed down by this game. We've made some strides."