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LARGO — Donavan Hale’s last two shots came in the crucial moments of the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship.
With Largo clinging to a 68-65 lead, Hale was on the line for two free throws to seal the win. He missed the first. Then he missed the second. An intentional foul was called with 7.1 seconds left, giving St. Petersburg new life.
“I was real nervous at that point,” Hale said.
The Green Devils’ Dayon Griffin hit one of two free throws. St. Petersburg got the ball back and Demontrae Adams was fouled with one second remaining. Needing to hit both free throws to send the game to overtime, Adams missed the first. Largo grabbed the rebound to preserve a 68-66 victory.
It was the Packers’ first conference title since 1999.
“I really wasn’t able to relax until the game was over,” Hale said. “I didn’t know if we would win. But we never gave up.”
Hale did his part to keep the Packers (19-5) in the game. He scored a team-high 21 points, including three 3-pointers.
But Largo needed some fortune to go its way. With two minutes left in regulation, the Packers trailed 61-57. They went on a 5-0 run, punctuated by Reggie Moore’s 3-pointer, to go up 62-61.
Both teams took turns taking the lead. Then Largo kept drawing fouls — and kept hitting free throws to go up 68-63.
Griffin answered with a layup to cut the deficit to 68-65 and set up the dramatic final moments.
“This was a real fun game,” Packers coach Phil Price said. “Sometimes you got to win a lucky one. We got ours in this one. But I’m also proud of our guys for never quitting.”
It was a tough loss for the Green Devils (17-8), who battled back from a late-season slump to beat Gibbs last week and earn a spot in the championship. Terrell Burney had 16 points and Adams 13 to lead St. Petersburg.
“We had a chance at the end,” coach Chris Blackwell said. “That’s all you can ask for. Largo is a great team and they capitalized on a lot of our mistakes. We played in spurts and didn’t have a lot of consistency.”