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LARGO — Nothing summed up Largo’s Class 6A, District 12 final against Palmetto on Friday night like the third quarter. Tied at halftime, the Tigers scored the first seven points after the break. Then Largo went on a 12-0 run, followed by a 12-0 run by Palmetto.
No matter what the Packers did, they couldn’t seem to shake their rival. Not until one final 12-0 run in the fourth quarter that was enough to give Largo the cushion it needed in a hard-fought 71-64 win.
Largo (20-6) has won 11 straight games and will host Armwood on Thursday in the region quarterfinals. Palmetto will travel to Sickles.
“We just never quit,” Largo coach Phil Price said. “A couple times we look as bad as we can look and then, boom. We’re not good outside shooters in general. We get a lot of points off our press. We seem to score in spurts.”
The game was played at a frantic pace almost from start to finish. It was tied at 14 after the first quarter and at 30 by halftime. Then it started to get interesting.
Palmetto quieted the crowd with its 7-0 run to start the third. But a Donavan Hale jumper, a steal and a Hale 3-pointer cut the lead to two.
Another steal and Curtis Reed layup tied the game. After a Palmetto miss, Juwan Brown made a layup to make it nine points in 17 seconds.
But Palmetto stormed back with its 12-0 run to end the quarter and the Tigers led 49-43 with eight minutes to play.
Trailing 55-50, Largo had one final spurt that was the difference. The Packers made eight straight free throws during their 12-0 run that gave them a 62-55 lead. Palmetto was unable to hit shots down the stretch, and Largo made 16-of-20 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
“That was huge,” Brown said of the fourth-quarter run. “It gave us momentum. We were getting turnovers and we were scoring. In the first half we were getting turnovers but we weren’t converting.”
Hale led all scorers with 24, including 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. Brown added 19 points and Reggie Moore had 11. Largo was forced to play without forward Jonathan Crawford, who is serving a suspension for getting two technical fouls in the semifinal against Dixie Hollins.
Palmetto was led by Jarrid Rhodes, who had 19 points. Jordan Young had 18.
5A-12: Gibbs never gives up
ST. PETERSBURG — The ball was delivered perfectly to Gibbs’ Daniel Davis, 25 feet from the rim. Catch and shoot, just like practice.
All Boca Ciega wanted to do was kill the clock, protect a lead and escape with a victory against the Gladiators for the second straight season in the Class 5A, District 12 tournament.
Instead, the district championship and the fading hope of Gibbs were in the sight line of one of Pinellas County’s emerging clutch shooters.
Catch and shoot. Bedlam.
Davis’ 3-pointer came from the right corner, with the Pirates running out at him with the game in the balance. It gave Gibbs the lead with 19 seconds remaining, a lead the Gladiators held on to in a startling 49-45 victory.
Gibbs (22-5) will host Lennard in the region quarterfinals. Boca Ciega (18-8) will play at Jesuit.
Davis’ big shot was nearly in the exact spot where he hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat rival Lakewood in overtime two weeks ago.
“I was feeling it again, just like the last time,” he said. “I was confident it was going to go in.”
Early on, it appeared the Gladiators wouldn’t need any last-minute dramatics. They took control, building a 29-11 lead at the half. Gibbs did it with defense, holding Pirates’ sharpshooter Dallas Moore to four first-half points.
But Moore, and his teammates, rallied in the third quarter by firing from long range. Boca Ciega outscored the Gladiators 23-6 in the third quarter by hitting five 3-pointers, including three from DJ White.
The Pirates carried that momentum into the fourth quarter. Moore had 14 of his 18 points in the second half, including a pair of free throws that gave Boca Ciega a 45-39 lead with less than a minute remaining.
That’s when Gibbs dialed up the pressure, forcing turnovers and turning them into points. The Gladiators cut the deficit to 45-43 to set up Davis’ 3-pointer. Gibbs made three free throws to cap scoring.
“Davis is just clutch,” Gibbs coach Larry Murphy said. “He’s been doing for most of the second half of the season. We just battled to get to that point.
“These kids will keep fighting until the buzzer. We played a lot of guys, including Davis, and that’s made us better down the stretch.”
7A-10: St. Petersburg holds off Seminole rally
ST. PETERSBURG — In a low-scoring game that showcased tough defense by both teams, a late defensive stop Friday helped secure St. Petersburg’s 35-31 win over Seminole in the Class 7A, District 10 district final.
After a 3-pointer by Terrell Burney gave the Green Devils an eight-point advantage late in the fourth period, the Warhawks’ Marco Behori sank consecutive 3s that pulled the team to within 33-31 with 1:05 remaining.
After St. Petersburg missed the front end of a one-and-one, Seminole drove past midcourt and called timeout with 9.3 seconds left. But the Warhawks were unable to inbound in time, and the Green Devils’ Dayon Griffin sank two free throws.
“I’m just proud that they hung in there when it looked like Seminole was going to go on a run,” said St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell, referring to Behori’s 3-pointers.
The Warhawks, who took a 7-2 lead, fell behind 14-8 by the end of the first period. Burney, who led all scorers with 11 points, had two of his three 3-pointers in the opening quarter.
For much of the night, St. Petersburg prevented Seminole from working the ball inside, limiting the Warhawks to a series of passes around the perimeter as they tried to find a way to the basket.
“We felt we had some size and speed on them,” said Blackwell.
Class 3A, District 9: This was considered one of the deepest districts in the county with as many as five teams that could contend for the title.
But the final will have a familiar ring with St. Petersburg Catholic and Shorecrest meeting for the second straight year after both won in Friday’s semifinals.
The Barons advanced with a 49-41 victory host Indian Rocks Christian. St. Petersburg Catholic got off to a strong start with a 15-2 lead after the first quarter.
Kevin O’Donnell led the Barons with 17 points, including two 3-pointers.
In the other semifinal, the defending champion Chargers beat upstart Clearwater Central Catholic 79-61.
Shorecrest used its perimeter game to get going with 14 3-pointers, including five from Kenny DeVaul and four from Austin Hunt.
The Marauders were led by Gary Wintermeier, who had 20 points and was 10-of-13 on free throws. Teammate Randle Ignacio had 18 points, all on 3-pointers.
Class 2A, District 9: After losing by 66 points in the last regular-season meeting, Canterbury was supposed to receive another shellacking by Sarasota Christian in the championship game.
But the Crusaders slowed the game down and actually led by a point midway through the third quarter.
It wasn’t enough. Sarasota Christian picked up the pace the rest of the game and cruised to a 71-56 victory.
Kyle Shealy and Hunter Coia each reached double figures in scoring for the Crusaders.
Staff writer Bob Putnam and correspondent Anthony Salveggi contributed to this report.