ST. PETERSBURG — Paris Williams scored 17 points to lead Lakewood 64-38 past Bradenton Southeast in their Class 6A, Region 3 semifinal Tuesday.
Lakewood (25-4) will host Robinson in the region final Friday. Last year the Spartans beat the Knights 50-38 en route to a runnerup finish in the state finals.
The Spartans were tough on defense from the start, taking a 5-0 lead in the first period and holding Southeast (18-11) without a basket until 4:28 remaining in the quarter. Nykisha Macon closed a strong period with a 3-pointer that gave Lakewood a 20-7 lead.
"I think we're at a nine right now (on a scale of 1-10)," Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil said. "We're capable of scoring inside and outside and defensively we can go with the best of them. Our intention tonight was to never let the game get close. And whenever a fire needs to be lit under them, I'm that fire. Fundamentally we have all the tools. Actually we might be at a nine and a half."
The inside-out game worked well for Lakewood as Williams generated offense from the perimeter and Macey Zeh-Arndt got tough baskets on the inside and finished with 11 points.
"With Macey it took her a little bit less than half the season to get acclimated to what we do here," Tunsil said. "I think right now she's the best center in the Tampa Bay area and really I would branch out and say beyond this area. Our team looks for her and she is starting to demand the ball and there's nothing wrong with that because when she has the ball she's been successful."
Lakewood began to pull away in the third quarter as Diana Rosenthal hit a 3-pointer and scored on a follow-up to put the Spartans ahead by 49-23. Williams stretched the lead to 54-29 with a 3-point play off a reverse layup to give Lakewood their biggest lead. From there Tunsil began to empty off the bench and think about a rematch with Robinson.
Toi Smith also had 11 points for Lakewood. Southeast was led with 11 points from sophomore Daija Snipes.