BRADENTON -- With 15 players in uniform, Elliot Washington doesn't have to worry about motivation.
It's the longest bench he has had in more than a decade as the Southeast boys basketball coach, and that takes care of a lot of potential problems.
The players on the floor know if they don't hustle, Washington has someone to replace them. And it might be quite awhile before they get back onto the hardwood.
It didn't seem as if anyone was slacking off for the host Seminoles in their 54-34 victory Tuesday over Lakewood Ranch.
Switching from man to zone, the Noles locked down the Lakewood Ranch shooters, holding them to 12 field goals in 48 attempts, including a dismal 2-for-17 from beyond the arc, while forcing 22 turnovers.
"We want to take pride in our defense every night. It's not something that just comes and goes and when we can hold a team to 34 points, it's usually a good outcome," Washington said. "This is the most amount of players I've ever had since I've been here in 13 years. If our guys are flying around playing hard, technically we should play 10 to 12 guys, especially if we are pressing, which we did at times tonight."
The point production was spread out for the Seminoles with eight players hitting the scoring column. The
only double-digit scorer was senior guard Markcene Jean, who tallied 15 points, connecting on 7 of 12 shots from the field.
The Mustangs' only double-figure scorer was Chaz Brady, who contributed 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting and hauled in seven rebounds. Kyle Brady was big on the boards for the Mustangs with 10 rebounds and had four points.
"We are still trying to find that Mustang toughness that we've had," Lakewood Ranch head coach Jeremy Schiller said. "We didn't defend well and play with the intensity you need to win basketball games, but that is something we can fix, so that is exciting."
Raleigh Alexander, a new face for the Noles (2-1), has made an imprint in the young season. The 6-foot-5 senior made his presence felt by scoring all nine of his points in the first quarter to stake his team to a 19-11 lead that it never lost.
Alexander hauled in six rebounds in the final period when Lakewood Ranch (2-4) tried to make a run, and he helped limit the Mustangs to only two field goals on 15 shots in the final period.
"Raleigh has a very good basketball I.Q., can finish around the paint and passes well," Washington said. "He didn't play last year because he was dinged up from football and we didn't get a chance to use his services, but we are looking forward to having him."
The Mustangs struggled all night to find good shots and in the second half starting going for the 3-pointer, but couldn't get any consistency. Southeast converted on 25 of 58 field-goal attempts.
The game was relatively close with the Noles leading 28-22 at the outset of the third quarter. But they outscored Lakewood Ranch 14-5 to stretch their lead to 42-27 a minute into the final period.
"We took a lot of threes at the end of the game, but that is not something we are trying to do," Schiller said. "They did a good job in their zone, and that was kind of what was available. We lack some aggressiveness going to the basketball right now, but Southeast did a great job."
For Southeast, freshman Ronald Taylor had eight points, and 6-4 junior Isaiah Mays had seven points and five rebounds.