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Lakewood outlasts Country Day 65-55

At the outset, one team, Jacksonville Arlington Country Day, had the national ranking (No. 22 by USA Today), national reputation, national tournament schedule and nationally recognized names.

At the end, the other team _ Lakewood _ had the victory. The unbeaten Spartans took a dramatic step toward defending their Hooters Holiday Shootout title with a come-from-behind 65-55 win at the Bayfront Center.

The result would have shocked anyone who saw just the first quarter. Lakewood played scared, and the big, athletic Apaches played strong, seizing an 18-7 lead. Slowly, however, the veneer of superiority vanished, and Lakewood (8-0) realized it not only belonged on the court, but had more energy and desire than ACD (11-2).

Trailing 35-27 at halftime, the Spartans played the entire second half in a full-court trapping defense and wore down ACD. Lakewood tied the game at 42 with a minute left in the third on a nifty layup by Norris Anderson (12 points).

The Spartans got the ball right back and held for the final shot of the quarter, which Marcus Morrison (game-high 19 points) coverted on a 12-foot floater for Lakewood's first lead of the game.

It was all Spartans from there. The frenetic defense continued to stymie the Apaches, and a three-pointer by Kevin Dorsey (10 points) pushed the lead to 59-48 with four minutes to go. ACD, which scored just 20 points in the second half, couldn't rally.

"We figured out what they were doing against our pressure," Lakewood coach Dan Wright said. "We were able to get steals and get a lot of run-outs."

The game was physical with 48 fouls, 24 on each team. Two double-fouls were called. There also were three technicals.

"I thought in the first half we had a chance to put them away. Their good kid (Morrison) had three fouls, and we didn't do it," said ACD coach Rex Morgan, whose team played in a tournament in Las Vegas last week. "They hung around, and their shots started falling and ours didn't."

At 8:30 tonight, Lakewood faces Hialeah Champagnat Catholic in a semifinal. The defending Class 2A state champions crushed 4A state champion and No. 1 ranked Lake Wales 67-45.

OTHER GAMES: Boca Ciega advanced to the other semifinal and kept alive hopes of a Bogie-Lakewood title game rematch with a 72-44 win over Northeast. The Pirates play Lexington, S.C., a 64-59 winner over West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman, at 7 p.m.

In the consolation bracket, Wharton beat Dixie Hollins 57-52, Virginia Beach (Va.) Cape Henry beat Florence (S.C.) Wilson 64-59, Marrero (La.) John Ehret beat Armwood 74-46, and Robinson beat Boca Raton Pope John Paul 62-39.

GIRLS TOURNAMENT: Clearwater plays Cooper City at 4 p.m. and Boca Ciega plays Bradenton Southeast at 5:30 p.m. today.