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Lakewood withstands rally by CCC, holds on for 74-71 win

Senior Flo Dowdell made two free throws with 15 seconds left as Lakewood held on to defeat Clearwater Central Catholic 74-71 Monday night in a non-conference girls basketball game.

Trailing 69-46 with five minutes left in the game, the Class 2A Marauders (13-9) rallied against the Class 3A Spartans.

Junior center Claire Roach started the surge with two three-pointers and a three-point play, and Rachel Bishop chipped in three baskets as CCC stifled Lakewood's offense and went on a 25-2 run in the last five minutes. In that span, Roach scored 19 of her game-high 41 points.

"They (CCC) never give up," Lakewood coach Larry West said. "They are very smart and have ways of sticking around until the end. Any time you have a player like Roach you better watch yourself until the end."

Lakewood, ranked No. 6 in the Class 3A state poll, was plagued by poor free-throw shooting and turnovers. Also, the Spartans (14-2) had five players foul out in the fourth quarter, including four starters. Lakewood played the final minute with four players.

"That's the way they play," West said. "One minute you are cruising and the next you lose a couple of players and all of sudden they're back in the game."

But Dowdell converted two free throws to make it 74-71 after the Marauders had cut the deficit to 72-71.

Lakewood had opened up a 60-34 lead after three quarters behind Dowdell's driving layups and Lisa Rowe's inside scoring. Rowe scored 14 of her team-high 22 points in the third quarter.

The Spartans' Dowdell contributed 18 points, and Nikia Hayes added 14 points. CCC's Bishop chipped in 11 points.