LARGO — Mitchell doesn’t have any problems playing at a fast pace. In fact, the Mustangs usually revel in it.
But Friday night, they never looked comfortable. They ran into defenders, got trapped in corners and found their way to the basket — and their ensuing shots — blocked and redirected by a long, rangy Packer team that proved, for now, to be the best in Class 6A, District 10.
Largo’s 64-46 win puts the Packers atop the district standings, with Mitchell now one game behind.
The teams will meet again next Friday at Mitchell, and potentially twice more in the district and region playoffs.
“Hopefully it’s a four-round fight,” said Mustangs coach Jared St. Charles, “and this was just the first round.”
It was clearly the Packers’ round. Despite struggling on offense and shooting just 12-for-37 in the first half, the Packers defense was able to keep it close until the shots started falling.
Trailing 22-17, Largo (16-1, 6-0) used a 17-3 run to close the first half and begin the second, fueled by a full-court press Mitchell never figured out.
Curtis Reed, Xavier Almonte and Jacorrie Riley provided most of the pressure in the front court. And when Mitchell did manage to break it, 6-foot-3 forwards Donavan Hale and Jonathan Crawford and 6-6 center Brandon Jones were waiting.
Jones had five blocks to go with 10 points. Hale scored seven of his team-high 15 points in the key Largo run.
“I told them at halftime the defense was doing great; we held them to 25 points. The problem was the offense,” said Largo coach Phil Price. “We got more aggressive on offense in the second half. And a couple of steals always helps.”
St. Charles said his team likes to play at a quick pace, but Friday it may have gotten away from the Mustangs a little. Lawrence Watt led all scorers with 19 points and Sean Thompson added 14, but the rest of the team scored just 13. And as a team, Mitchell was 18-for-63 from the floor.
Mitchell (16-2, 5-1) was held under 50 points for just the second time — both losses.
“I think at a certain point the game just got sped up and we started panicking a little,” St. Charles said. “We like to play this fast, we just don’t get to see it too much. We feel like we can handle it. We’ll see how we do next week.”