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Dorsey's key plays turn tide

By JOHN SCHWARB, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 10, 2002


LAKELAND -- It was a frantic few moments that lifted Lakewood from a dogfight to a title, and Kevin Dorsey calmly steered the Spartans right through.

LAKELAND -- It was a frantic few moments that lifted Lakewood from a dogfight to a title, and Kevin Dorsey calmly steered the Spartans right through.

Midway through the fourth quarter of Saturday's Class 4A championship, Lakewood clung to a one-point lead against Belle Glade Glades Central and appeared in a bit of a bind.

Then a loose ball following a botched Spartans alley-oop ended up in Dorsey's hands, and he hit a 3-pointer to increase Lakewood's lead from one to four.

One minute later, he spotted Brian Ligon streaking to the basket and delivered a perfect assist to make it 55-49.

Just like that, the day was saved -- in large part by a senior that wasn't going to have it any other way.

"That was like in slow motion," Dorsey said. "We weren't going to go down after that."

Lakewood didn't, winning its first state title 59-52, helped in large part by the 5-foot-11 point guard. In his final prep game, Dorsey led the Spartans with 23 points on eight of 13 shooting.

"That was a guy that really wanted the ball," Lakewood coach Dan Wright said. "We felt that from the very beginning of the game."

Dorsey hit his first three shots to score seven of Lakewood's first 12 points. In the second quarter he drew an gasp from the crowd after a crossover dribble and 3-pointer, and in the third contributed another big-momentum play with a steal and layup.

In all, it was a virtuoso performance from a player who two months ago appeared an unlikely candidate for an All-Tournament team in Lakeland.

Against Miami Monsignor Pace in the Hooters Holiday Shootout on Dec. 27, Dorsey suffered a high ankle sprain and had to be carried off the floor. He missed six games and said the injury bothered him at times the rest of the season.

But once he returned to action, the Spartans' second-leading scorer regained his old form. Against Eustis on Jan. 19, he scored 30 points. Four nights later, he dropped 29 on Gibbs.

"What (the injury) did for him was give him an opportunity to sit and actually see what was going on," Wright said. "I think he saw the game differently."

Like in slow motion.

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