BRADENTON - Lakewood Ranch High senior forward Jeremiah Hill was determined not to let his fatigue decide the Mustangs' 48-45 victory at Southeast.
After missing the front end of a one-and-one with less than a minute remaining and the Mustangs (7-11) ahead 44-41, Hill got another chance when he was fouled by Korey Hunt with 23 seconds left. He made both attempts for a 46-42 lead, all but ending the Seminoles' hopes.
"We made it hard on ourselves late in the game," said Hill, who scored 11 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out three assists, all in the fourth quarter. "(On his missed free throw), I just didn't bend my knees. It was all mechanics. I didn't expect to be so drained. The next time, I bent my knees a little more, and they went in."
Lakewood Ranch, which rallied from an 18-12 deficit late in the second quarter, overcame the loss of point guard Tim Brooks (nine points, five rebounds) to cramps with 3:25 remaining. The Mustangs also played without guard Mike Demarski, who was benched by coach Randy Smith for missing a practice.
"We're a pretty close-knit team, and if one guy falls, the other guys know they have to step up. That's exactly what we did," Hill said.
The Mustangs' other front-court player, 6-foot-2 senior Colby Hall, scored 13 points with six rebounds and two blocked shots and was on the receiving end of each of Hill's fourth-quarter assists. Cole Zigich and Kieran Sweeney scored five each.
"I thought we had a great overall team effort," Smith said. "The kids were really working hard in our matchup zone defense and did a good job covering their areas. (Hill and Hall) have been our leaders the last five or six games."
Southeast top scorers Brian Alexander and Mike Bacon each scored 14 points but were a combined 12-for-32 from the field.
The Noles (7-6) made only three of 14 free throws and committed 21 turnovers, two more than the Mustangs. Unable and perhaps unwilling to mix it up inside, Southeast took 19 3-pointers, making four.
"We didn't do much of anything well (Tuesday night)," said coach Elliot Washington, who held a 20-minute, closed-door meeting afterward. "We challenge them every day in practice to be mentally strong, but right now, we are searching for guys to lead and show a little pride in Southeast basketball.
"Lakewood Ranch wanted to win, and we didn't."
LAKEWOOD RANCH (48) - Josiah Miller 1 0-2 2, Tim Brooks 4 1-2 9, Cole Zigich 1 2-2 5, Colby Hall 6 1-2 13, Jeremiah Hill 4 3-6 11, Jack Haller 0 0-0 0, Bradley Jackson 0 1-2 1, Kieran Sweeney 1 3-5 5, Nick Diaz 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 11-21 48.
SOUTHEAST (45) - Brian Alexander 5 2-6 14, Korey Hunt 2 0-2 5, Jeran Davis 1 1-6 4, Mike Bacon 7 0-0 14, Trey Murray 0 0-0 0, John Ethridge 0 0-0 0, Troy Dufrane 0 0-0 0, Will Maxwell 3 0-0 6, Steve Suchy 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 3-14 45.
Lakewood Ranch 8 12 10 18 - 48
Southeast 4 14 10 17 - 45
3-pointers: Lakewood Ranch 1 (Zigich); Southeast 4 (Alexander 2, Hunt, Davis). Total fouls: Lakewood Ranch 10, Southeast 19. Fouled out: Southeast (Hunt). Records: Lakewood Ranch 7-11, Southeast 7-6.