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Spartans get a lucky bounce, edge county foe Tornadoes by two

Close at the end

By BOB PUTNAM
Published January 23, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - A 32-minute game came down to the final few ticks Monday night.

Clearwater's Selina Thomas drove to the hoop with a chance to tie the score. Her shot, though, bounced off the backboard and landed in the hands of Lakewood's Kquanise Byrd as the final horn sounded.

Byrd, clutching the ball with both hands, stayed on the court, her eyes looking up at a scoreboard that read: Lakewood 50, Clearwater 48.

"Both teams scrap and it's a war every time we play each other," Tornadoes coach Tom Shaneyfelt said. "I expected it to be this close."

The Spartans 18-5 took command early with Byrd and Innekia Reedy each hitting shots from the outside to help their team go ahead 17-11 after the first quarter.

Clearwater (21-2) stayed in the game with Brittany Carannante finding Lauren Lee for enough inside shots to cut the deficit to 26-22 at the half.

Both teams stayed even for much of the second half. Byrd, who scored a game-high 23 points, sealed the game by making two free throws in the final minute.

On Friday, Lakewood travels to Clearwater to play in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game.

"We respect Clearwater, but also things are clicking right now for us," Spartans coach Necole Tunsil said.

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4169

Lakewood 50

Clearwater 48