PINELLAS PARK — The game was on the line.
So was Lakewood's LaDarius Barnes.
In the frantic final moments of Wednesday's game against Pinellas Park, the Spartans made a furious rally, cutting a nine-point deficit to one. And with 0.6 seconds left in regulation, Barnes drew a foul.
He had a chance to put Lakewood ahead by making both free throws. The first one missed. Barnes needed to make the second to send the game into overtime. He took a long, deep breath and released.
In overtime, the Spartans completed the comeback, outscoring Pinellas Park 6-2 in the extra period to win 69-65.
"We had an opportunity at the end of the game and took advantage of it," Lakewood coach Dan Wright said.
For most of the game the Patriots were in control, due in large part to their height advantage. Pinellas Park dominated on the boards, nearly outrebounding the Spartans by a 2-1 margin.
That allowed the Patriots (2-2) to go into the fourth quarter with a 45-34 lead. And with one minute left in regulation, Pinellas Park still led by nine.
That's when Lakewood (3-0) dialed up the pressure, getting turnovers and turning them into points. The Spartans' rally was ignited by a 3-pointer from Chris Street and consecutive field goals by Mike Singleton and Dominic Lane.
Pinellas Park, which was out of timeouts, could only watch its lead disappear.
"I really thought we had won the game in the final minute," Patriots coach Jon Cabino said. "I wished we still had more timeouts because we could have regained our composure.
"Our guys have the confidence to play with anybody. We just have to learn how to close games."
Lakewood's Alvin Cunningham scored a team-high 24. Pinellas Park was led by Victor Estrada, who had 23.