For anyone looking over the Lakewood Ranch boys basketball roster, they may be forgiven for thinking they were reading the results of a long tennis match – with three tie games unsettled: 6-0, 6-0, 6-1, 6-5, 6-3, 6-4, 6-6, 6-6, 6-6.

When the Mustangs unfurled their long legs on their home court Tuesday night in preparation for a district matchup with Venice, it soon became obvious they were also very talented.

After all, they are the three-time defending District 8A-11 champions.

The Mustangs soon proved themselves on the court with a 79-42 defeat of Venice to remain undefeated in the district (9-0). Their overall mark advanced to 15-5.

Venice meanwhile, slipped to 8-15 and hold a 4-5 record in the district.

Though the Indians managed to stay fairly close in the early going, Lakewood Ranch staggered Venice by finishing out the opening quarter on a 9-0 run. When the horn sounded, Venice trailed 25-11 after eight minutes.

“It’s already thrown out, this game is forgotten,” said Indians head coach John Flynn. “I don’t care about winning and losing, I care about competing and we did not compete tonight.

“I don’t know if they’re looking forward to the next big game or what. We have to play the game in front us. I don’t care if it’s the best team in the area or not. You compete. You take care of the game in front of you.”

Ultimately the game was finished with a running clock. The spread reached 40 points with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

After concluding the opening eight minutes by surrendering the nine-point run, Lakewood Ranch continued into the next quarter.

With six straight points to open the second, the run reached 15-0. Spencer Green stopped the bleeding with a swish from beyond the arc.

Later in the quarter, Christian Rodriguez drained another trey. But the Indians trailed 48-19 at the half.

“Their height comes in to play in some ways, but we can play so much better — like we did on our home court,” said captain Brett Keyso. “Hopefully, we’ll have another chance in the district championship to prove how much better we are than this.”

Venice fell by a 74-60 count to the Mustangs at the TeePee on Dec. 11.

Adam Gebel highlighted the Indians’ play in the third quarter with a pair of 3-pointers and a deuce for eight points. Rodriguez added another trey. Though the Indians had their best quarter offensively, they still fell three points further behind.

Gebel led Venice with 11 points while Rodriguez added nine – all on 3-pointers. Chason Rockymore and Vince Marino chipped in with six apiece. The Mustangs’ Joshua Young led all scorers with 17 points.

“We can’t let this game distract us. We have two more games this week – one more before Braden River – so we have to put this behind us,” said Keyso.

The game to which Keyso referred is Bradenton Christian. The Panthers will visit the TeePee on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

The district clash at Braden River is on Friday night.


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