Lakewood rebounds to beat Boca Ciega

Published January 19, 2006

GULFPORT - Lakewood picked up a crucial district win Wednesday night, as well as a critical conference victory.

But most importantly, said coach Dan Wright, was his team picking up momentum.

A strong fourth-quarter effort netted the No. 7-ranked Spartans a 48-43 win over Boca Ciega, sending most of the sold-out crowd home unhappy and Lakewood on to bigger and better things, if the coach has his way.

"Oh, yes, yes, this was big," said Wright, whose team completed a sweep of the Pirates with the win. "For us to be able to wake up tomorrow and walk through the community with our chest poked out is huge. And hopefully this was a step towards getting some momentum for the rest of the season. It's that time of the year."

Lakewood (13-5) trailed all game, falling behind by as many as 10 points in the first half, but once the Spartans got within 24-20 by halftime, Bogie was never able to make its lead any bigger.

After scoring first to start the fourth quarter to lead 37-35, Bogie (11-4) withered under Lakewood's trapping defense as the Spartans scored the next eight.

A Nehemiah Simpkins' free throw cut the Lakewood lead to 41-40 with 2:40 remaining, but the Pirates failed to score again until Simpkins hit a 3-pointer in the waning seconds.

In between, the Spartans did just enough to win, as Ed Nixon (13 points) and Ronnie Love (10 points) scored baskets to keep Lakewood out front.

Love was pivotal in the first half in getting the Spartans back in the game when he scored six in the final 4 minutes after Lakewood had fallen behind 20-10.

Bogie lost center Trayce Macon to fouls when the senior picked up his last two in a five-second span with 2:50 left in the game. Macon had five rebounds and five blocked shots in the second half when he was forced out.