LARGO — Once Largo started finishing on the offensive end, Springstead was finished.
But it wasn’t an easy trip to the host Packers’ ninth straight victory, 65-56. Especially early, the district newbies brought energy and discipline, leading for much of the first half before a late Largo run led to a one-point advantage at the break.
“Being poised under pressure, not taking quick shots, making them guard us, that was our game plan,” Eagles coach Tim Plumadore said. “We knew they were long, they were fast, and they were athletic. We wanted to make them work as hard as possible.”
Behind hustling efforts from Aaron Waddy (nine of his 11 points in the first half) and guard Devonte Valentin (game-high 22 points), Springstead (8-3, 3-2 district play) kept Largo (9-0, 2-0) off balance.
“Yeah, (the Eagles) came right out and punched us in the face, so to speak,” Packers coach Phil Price said. “They played great defense.”
But when Largo pulled together, got a little more disciplined and patient on offense, the tide turned.
After a first half of rushed shots and missed bunnies, capped by a rejection by Anthony Caban on a second-quarter stuff, center Brandon Jones was a changed man in the final 16 minutes.
“I felt if I could get my shots to fall early, I’d have a good game,” Jones said. “But I was rushing a few of my shots and they took advantage of our mistakes.”
After shooting 3 for 14 in the first half, Jones was 4 for 6 from there. He joined frontcourt mate Brandon Drayton to combine for 32 points and 27 rebounds.
“This was our first challenge of the season,” Jones said, both of Springstead and of Largo’s first game without the injured Donavan Hale. “This was the first of many, to be honest. We expect to play harder teams but I think this was fun. I liked it.”