ST. PETERSBURG — It was a good night for Largo with one minor exception.
The Packers’ newly won PCAC trophy broke while the team took pictures with it. All coach Phil Price could do was shake his head and smile.
“We’ll fix it I guess,” Price said. “It’s about the only thing that went wrong tonight.”
Largo pressed, smothered and frustrated Lakewood on Friday behind a stifling defense and a balanced scoring attack, winning 60-43 at the Gibbs campus of St. Pete College.
“It was a tough, physical game and the referees really let them bang on the inside, but they were consistent about it,” Price said. “And it was a good thing for our guys because they showed they were up for the challenge.”
Brandon Jones scored 20 points and Myles Kearse added 10 to lead the Packers. Both Dakari Allen and Curtis Reed finished with eight points.
“It’s a much different team this year because we’ve got so many guys that can score and we can move the ball around with confidence,” Price said. “I know if the shots aren’t falling for one guy we’ve got plenty of options.”
The Packers came out of the gate with a 10-0 run to take a 11-2 first-quarter lead and never looked back. Lakewood kept the game within reach, trailing 26-18 at halftime. But a strong start to the third quarter had the Packers extending their lead to 37-21 after Jones hit 1-of-2 from the line.
The Spartans got no closer than 37-25 and a jumper by Donavan Hale at the end of the quarter gave the Packers a 41-25 advantage.
Lakewood’s frustration was evident midway through the fourth when Jacobi Boykins missed back-to-back dunks while Jones converted with a two-handed slam of his own on the other end to give Largo a 52-31 lead before both coaches started clearing their benches.
“We’re playing tough right now and we’ve got good chemistry on this team,” Jones said. “We played a lot of physical games earlier this season so we know how to bang and battle for loose balls.”
Boykins finished with 20 points for Lakewood while Anthony Lawrence Jr. added 12.