GIBSONTON — Heading into the second half of the season, Tampa Bay Tech's games have usually followed the same script: start strong, lag a little and finish strong.
It's not necessarily the way first-year coach Reggie Lawrence would prefer it, but with the district tournament looming next month, he can't complain about the outcome.
And in Tuesday's key Class 5A-8 district matchup at East Bay, the result was another win, as the Titans remained undefeated in district play with a 46-40 victory over the Indians.
After taking a 12-2 lead, the Titans (13-2, 8-0) allowed the Indians back into the game, clutching a three-point lead heading into the final quarter. Another 12-2 run helped the Titans close out the victory.
In the final quarter, Tampa Bay Tech switched to a man defense that got East Bay out of its rhythm.
"That will ignite us sometimes, and I guess it did this time," Lawrence said. "We had to pick up the intensity. We were playing flat.
"I think we should be playing better. We're turning the basketball over too much, making too many simple mistakes. We have time. It's a lot of correctable stuff. I just think that with a senior-laden team, we'd be playing better basketball."
Senior J.J. Rodriguez and junior Dasia Daniels led Tampa Bay Tech with 14 points each. Rodriguez was a force inside, scoring 10 of her points in the first half, while Daniels' perimeter shooting dominated the second half, as she scored 10 after the half.
"Everyone stepped their game up, on defense especially," Rodriguez said of the fourth-quarter run. "We were kind of slacking, but we brought the intensity back up. We have to find ways to bring back that intensity."
Brittany Mobley and Stacy-Ann Blake led East Bay (10-7, 4-4), which lost its first game at home, with eight points each. The Indians are fourth in the district, but face Plant City tonight and second-place Durant on Friday.