NEW PORT RICHEY — One week after it defeated Mitchell on its home court, Largo knew the second meeting with the Mustangs would be an even bigger challenge.
But Packers coach Phillip Price expected his players to be ready for the highly anticipated rematch and they were as Largo staved off a late comeback attempt by Mitchell on Friday night and held on 73-62 for its ninth straight win.
“I told them it was going to be a great game, we’re in their backyard and you’ve got to give it everything you’ve got,” Price said. “We had to hit a couple big shots, which we did.”
Both teams traded leads to open the game. But after shots stopped falling for the Mustangs, the Packers (19-1, 7-0 in Class 6A, District 10) used an 11-2 run the rest of the first quarter to build an early advantage.
“That was huge for us,” said Largo senior Brandon Jones, who finished with a game-high 28 points. “I like the fact that my team wants to run. A lot of teams can’t stick with us once we get going.”
Mitchell’s struggles to stop the Packers’ fast-paced offense carried over to the second.
Largo’s Jonathan Crawford (nine points) and Jones, who silenced the capacity crowd with a thunderous dunk, led an 11-0 run midway through the quarter to take a 10-point edge into the break.
But the Mustangs (18-4, 6-2) refused to give up.
Despite trailing by 18 in the third, Mitchell clawed back in the fourth and took advantage of Largo’s mistakes.
The suddenly hot-handed Mustangs jumped on a 14-2 run, which included two 3-pointers by Bernie Conley (16 points) and Mike Freeman (12), to pull within seven.
But it was too late as Curtis Reed and Jones secured the win with two free throws in the final seconds.
“Once we start putting points on the board, you can’t stop us,” Jones said.