Boys hoops: Spartans roll past Patriots

Lakewood dominates all night as Pinellas Park struggles to put points on the board.

By Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer
Published February 24, 2008

PINELLAS PARK - One of the lasting memories of Pinellas Park's remarkable run through the Class 5A playoffs was the sight of the Patriots making one big shot after another.

One of the lasting memories of Pinellas Park's region final game against Lakewood was the Patriots missing one shot after another.

Pinellas Park had one of its worst shooting nights Saturday night. The Spartans, however, did not.

The result was a 60-34 Lakewood victory.

The Spartans (28-2) will play Brandon in the 5A state semifinals Wednesday night at 8:30 in Lakeland.

"I never saw this coming," Patriots coach Allen Carden said.

For one glorious moment, Pinellas Park led 2-0 when Cam Carden drove in for a layup.

After that, it was all Lakewood.

The Spartans, the defending Class 5A state finalist, showed their playoff pedigree. They played smothering defense. On offense, they took control with Mike Morrison dominating on the inside, and Reggie Reed and Dominic Lane hitting shots from the outside.

"We stepped up, said Morrison, who scored 13 points. "We played great on defense, and we hit some tough shots."

By the end of the end of the first quarter, Lakewood was ahead 14-8. By halftime, the Spartans were up 28-17.

The second half wasn't much different. Lakewood started the third quarter on a 12-0 run to put the game out of reach.

"I think Lakewood's kids simply outplayed our kids in the first half," Allen Carden said. "In the second half, (the Spartans) gained a lot more confidence, and that took a toll."

The Patriots (25-5), who made the playoffs for the first time since 1997, never recovered. In the first three quarters, they only scored in single digits, and they trailed 47-24 going into the fourth quarter.

"We were battle-tested," said Reed, who scored a team-high 15 for Lakewood. "We knew Pinellas Park had not been in the playoffs for a long time. We took advantage and knew what to do."

With two minutes remaining, Carden conceded it was midnight. He emptied his bench. As starters Cam Carden, Jesse Woods and Jake Troyli left the court, the Patriots fans, sitting behind the bench, stood to applaud them.

"I think we definitely put Pinellas Park on the map with basketball," Cam Carden said.

Lakewood 60 Pinellas Park 34