The Lakewood High School girls basketball team (16-9) defeated the Weeki Wachee Hornets (20-8) by a score of 60-10 in the Girls Basketball State Tournament 4A regional quarterfinal on Thursday night. The Spartans from St. Petersburg entered the evening having lost their most recent playoff match to the Booker Tornadoes (18-7) the week before. The Hornets were the ones coming in on a hot streak having won eight of their last nine contests before dropping Thursday’s matchup at home.
It was simply not meant to be for the Green and Black as the visitors took control from the very start. Lakewood Center Senior Da’Nasia Albritton drew first blood as six different Spartans scored to open up a 14-0 lead midway through the first period.
Despite some missed opportunities for the Hornets, Senior Princess Hester put the home team on the board with about 2:30 remaining in the first quarter. However, this moment was short-lived as Lakewood immediately answered with a three-pointer.
The Hornets immediately put another two points on the board, but the visitors used some crisp passing and a quick steal to log two more baskets. Lakewood’s lead ballooned to 19 points at the end of one quarter.
Coming out of the mid-half break, Freshman Point Guard Alahni Lovett made a basket from the charity stripe and immediately logged another two points on the next possession. Lovett also knocked down a three moments before the half ended. Princess Hester would go on to sink two more shots in the second quarter, but that proved to be the Hornets’ only points of the period.
The lead had grown to an imposing 35-8 after the first 16 minutes of play.
The Hornets surely hoped to turn things around after the intermission. However, much to the home team’s chagrin, the Spartans continued to dominate. The visitors outscored Weeki Wachee by a 25-2 margin in the second half and held the Green and Black scoreless in the final frame.
Asked how he felt about his team’s performance, Weeki Wachee Head Coach Billy Hughes stated, “The score will not reflect how hard we played for all 32 minutes of the game, all year. Our intensity level was great. We continued to battle from the tipoff to the last buzzer. I’m extremely proud of the way that we continued to execute and work hard, and we didn’t give up at all.”
Two key differences for the squads on the evening consisted of threes and passing. Lakewood knocked down a variety of shots from beyond the arc while the home team came up empty-handed in that category. The visitors also utilized clean passing to open up scoring opportunities while suffering fewer turnovers than the Hornets.
Coach Hughes also noted Lakewood’s status as a premier women’s basketball program acknowledging, “their winning tradition over there, final fours, championships. You name it, they’ve done it now. So, I was glad that our girls got to compete at a high level, to experience the atmosphere of the game, for the kids to realize how good the competition is.”
Despite the rough night on the court, Coach Hughes feels his team accomplished a great deal this season. The Hornets’ coach was effusive in his praise for his squad and is looking forward to getting back to work over the offseason. Despite losing three seniors, Coach Hughes feels he has a close and talented group returning.
“I can’t tell you in words how proud I am of this team,” said Hughes. “From opening preseason games, two games at Nature Coast, to this last game tonight, from district championship, to being co-Hernando County champs with Hernando and how well every game we’ve continued to get better and better and better. People see us, people know about us. I’m just glad how hard our girls continued to fight.”