LAND O'LAKES — Springstead flexed its defensive muscle Saturday night, holding Hudson to two third-quarter points and forcing 16 turnovers in a 52-39 victory over the Cobras in the Class 4A, District 8 boys basketball final at Sunlake High.
"We mixed it up and played defense," Springstead coach Pat Kelly said. "It was a great game, and we played some great defense."
That defense was evident not only in the second half but throughout the game.
Cobras star shooting guard Jarrod Branco scored 16 and grabbed 16 rebounds, but the rest of his team was quiet on the offensive end and held to 23 points.
Springstead (27-0) will play host to Kissimmee Poinciana in a region quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Thursday. Hudson (19-8) will be on the road against Groveland South Lake at the same time and on the same day.
On Saturday, Hudson led 7-2 early after a Chris Russo (seven points) layup, but the Eagles fought back behind Isiah Mason's five points in the first quarter.
The second quarter turned into a back-and-fourth battle and the teams went into halftime tied at 24.
Springstead increased its energy level in the third quarter and forced the ball out of Branco's hands for most of the period as the Eagles pulled ahead by six.
Turnovers also slowed the Cobras all night.
In the final quarter, Eagles guard Dante Valentine (18 points, nine rebounds) scored eight to help seal the district title for Springstead.
"They beat us last year, so we had to come out and beat them this time," said Mason, who had eight points, six rebounds and four blocks.
"It is what we have been doing all year, and we were not going to let anyone stop us."