ST. PETERSBURG — Boca Ciega's offense, particularly the play of its guards, usually overwhelms opponents. But the points did not come easy in Wednesday's rivalry game against Lakewood.
So the Pirates had to rely on something else: defense.
Trailing by two points at the end of the first quarter, Boca Ciega turned up the intensity in the second and third quarters to win 74-62.
"Coach (Randy Shuman) called a timeout and told us we have to get on our hands and knees and play defense," Pirates guard Kenny Smith said. "Everyone knows about our offense, but we had to bust our tails on defense to win."
Boca Ciega (16-1) did it by creating steals, by corralling loose balls and by controlling the boards on both ends of the court. That led to easy baskets in transition and plenty of trips to the free-throw line.
In the second and third quarters, the Pirates outscored the Spartans by a combined 43-27.
"The defensive intensity was there," Shuman said. "We needed it because we had 21 turnovers and left a lot of points on the free-throw line. We had some steals and some blocked shots that were big."
Kyonn Smith scored a game-high 23 for Boca Ciega. But his biggest contribution was his ability to dominate underneath the basket, with nine rebounds and four blocked shots. Kenny Smith (19 points) and Dallas Moore (11 points) also reached double digits in scoring for the Pirates.
Down 61-45 in the fourth quarter, Lakewood (8-6) went on a 13-1 run to cut the deficit to four. But the Spartans could not get any closer as their shooting went cold and they sent Boca Ciega to the line by committing crucial fouls.
"Our story all season is we've struggled offensively in the second and third quarters," Lakewood coach Dan Wright said. "We're missing layups and turning the ball over. We need to be able to sustain what we're doing over a period of time.
"But we're a better team than we were 2-3 weeks ago."
Mike Singleton had 20 points, including three 3-pointers, to lead the Spartans.