ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood is a young, exuberant team that loves to run and trap and press. But when the game gets gritty, the Spartans get greedy.
Ask Jacksonville Ribault.
Ribualt threw its quickness, toughness and tradition at Lakewood. The Spartans snapped back. In fact, there was little Lakewood could not handle on its way to a relentless 63-37 victory on the first day of its Breast Cancer Shootout.
"Ribault is a very physical and strong team," Spartans coach Necole Tunsil said. "That's good for us. We needed to play a game like that because it will prepare us for the long stretch the rest of the season."
Tunsil chose to play Ribault not only for its tenacity, but its postseason pedigree. Ribault has won eight state titles, the most of any program in Florida.
But Ribault is in a rebuilding mode, and it showed Friday night. Lakewood (15-3) raced out to a 14-7 lead after the first quarter and was up 32-11 at the half.
"The score does not indicate how close the game was," Tunsil said.
"Ribault is young, but they're scrappy. They got in our face. It was tough."
With the lopsided score, Tunsil was able to play some of her reserves. Ribault made a run and cut the deficit to 12 late in the third quarter but did not get any closer.
Lakewood sophomore Tianah Alvarado led all scorers with 21 points. The only other Spartan to reach double figures in scoring was Taye'lor Trotter (11).
"Tianah got her points in spurts," Tunsil said. "We were able to get a lot of girls into the game in the second half and spread things around."
It doesn't get easier for Lakewood. At 6 tonight, the Spartans face two-time defending state champ Miami Norland.
Bob Putnam can be reached at email@example.com.