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The seniors spark Lakewood 70-60 past Lincoln Park Academy.
By ZACH STEWART
Published March 6, 2005
FORT PIERCE - Sean Morrison was an understudy the last time Lakewood went to the state final four in 2002, and Mario Telfair was the junior varsity star called up late to get a taste of all the excitement.
Now seniors, the two played key roles in getting the Spartans back Saturday night, as Lakewood beat Fort Pierce Westwood 70-60 at Lincoln Park Academy. Morrison led the Spartans with 23 points, and Telfair came up with some big free throws down the stretch, sending Lakewood to Lakeland.
It will be coach Dan Wright's county-record sixth trip to the state semifinals, breaking a tie with his old high school coach and mentor Freddie Dyles of Gibbs, who took the Gladiators five times, and St. Petersburg's Strayer "Buck" Hawk.
Wright, the county's all-time winningest coach, was a player on two of Dyles' final four teams.
To get their coach the record, the Spartans survived foul trouble and a third-quarter onslaught by the Panthers, who trailed by 10 at halftime.
The Spartans (30-2) dominated the Panthers (24-6) on the offensive boards early, repeatedly getting second opportunities and making the most of them.
Westwood, however, went on a run in the third quarter and pulled even early in the fourth, tying it at 52-all.
But behind some solid work on the boards and clutch shooting from the line, the Spartans closed the game with an 18-8 run.
"(In the fourth quarter) both teams were in a rhythm, but both teams were tired," Wright said. "Defensively, both teams were giving up second shots and driving to the basket. In the scouting report, (rebounding) was their forte, and we worked all week and talked about how, if we were going to win, we needed to beat them on the boards."
Telfair was only 2-of-9 from the floor, but hit 7-of-8 free throws in the critical fourth quarter and finished with 12 points, while point guard Dion Burton contributed nine points and Michael Buckins accounted for eight.
The Spartans are 28-11 in the playoffs under Wright, including 12-2 since 2001.
"We're blessed by the Lord to keep getting these good players," Wright said.