ST. PETERSBURG - Lakewood forward Coryon Ross doesn't need tonight's game against Clearwater to tell him who Pinellas County's best team is.
"We already think we're the best team," he said.
They still have to prove it, however, and after an impressive win over Boca Ciega Thursday night, they'll get their chance.
Setting up a highly anticipated meeting with Clearwater, the Spartans rolled over the Pirates 86-68 and into tonight's Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game at Eckerd.
The game, a 7:30 start, will undoubtedly pit the county's two best teams against each other. Combined they are 45-2 this season, and neither has lost in 2004 nor to a state or county team.
Lakewood is 24-1, ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 4A, and won the PCAC title in 2002; Clearwater is 22-1, ranked No. 3 in Class 5A and the defending PCAC champs.
"I think it will be a pretty good game," Lakewood guard Sean Morrison said. "We started talking about it around midseason, I guess. Like, when the newspaper ranked them No. 1, ahead of us."
The Spartans enter on a roll. While Clearwater has won its past two games by an average of 43.5 points, Lakewood has beaten rivals Gibbs and Bogie this week in pressure-packed soldout games.
Thursday, eight Spartans had nine points or more, and point guard Dion Burton had eight assists to lead the rout.
Trailing only once at 3-2, the Spartans used a 32-7 run to take control and open up a lead that ballooned to 29 in the first half.
Admiral Farragut earns bragging rights
ST. PETERSBURG - Officially, Admiral Farragut's 70-67 win over St. Petersburg Catholic Thursday night was just another game. It was the only meeting between the schools this season, and since they are in separate classifications there is no possibility of a rematch.
Unofficially, the game had some meaning. The Blue Jackets earned year-long bragging rights as the county's top private school.
"There was a lot riding on the game," Admiral Farragut coach Mike Wells said. "I wouldn't make it any more than it is, which is a quality win for us, but our guys wanted this game."
From the outset the game had a special feel. St. Petersburg Catholic (22-2) built a 24-14 first-quarter lead and the Barons' tiny gym was rocking. But Admiral Farragut charged back in the second quarter with a 13-1 run that included a four-point play when Tommy Lampley was fouled after hitting a 3-point shot. The Blue Jackets led 37-36 at halftime
"I thought our defense, especially in the second quarter, was the key to the game," Wells said. "St. Pete Catholic is a scoring machine and we held them to 43 points after the first quarter."
Admiral Farragut (19-5) led by as many as nine early in the fourth quarter, but the lead was cut to 69-67 with 25 seconds left when Aaron Holmes hit a 10-footer. After a turnover, the Barons had a chance to tie it with four seconds left, but Billy Tapp's layup was well defensed. Admiral Farragut's Felipe Schmidt hit 1 of 2 free throws with two seconds left, and Travis Karto's halfcourt heave at the buzzer fell short.
Lampley led the Blue Jackets with 21 points. Holmes scored 20 to lead the Barons.