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Lakewood delivers a lesson in intensity

Spartans run over Countryside 89-60 for the school's fourth county title.

By ERIC MUSKATEVC

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


CLEARWATER -- Five years ago when Countryside coach Randall Leath took over a struggling Cougars basketball program, he conferred with Lakewood coach Dan Wright on how to install a winning tradition. Wright emphasized intensity.

So when Countryside faced Lakewood for the first time in five years in the PCAC championship, Leath knew what to expect.

Lakewood took a commanding lead in the first half, and held down host Countryside 89-60 to win the country trophy for the fourth time in school history.

The Spartans used their run-and-gun style to smother the Cougars, who normally overwhelm teams the same way.

"You can't simulate speed like that in practice," Leath said of Lakewood. "We had 36 turnovers, two-thirds of them unforced. This was a statement game and we just didn't make a statement."

Marcus Morrison paced the Spartans with 10 points in the first quarter on the way to 18. Kevin Dorsey finished with a team-high 21. Lakewood scored 19 points or more in each quarter.

"This was one of the things we wanted, to actually go through the county unblemished," said Wright whose team's only two losses came in the Hooters tournament.

Jeff Bronson and Scott Brown led the Cougars with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Countryside's smallest deficit was three points in the opening minute.

But for a team that won two games two seasons ago, Countryside has accomplished much.

"We're certainly still very proud of what we've done," Leath said. "This was a bonus game for us with playoff atmosphere but without the playoff consequences. This type of game is new to us, and hopefully, down the road, it won't be so new."

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