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Boys basketball: Largo 53, Wharton 42

SEMINOLE — Because he has a number of football players on his team, Largo basketball coach Phil Price purposely loaded the schedule with tough games toward the end of the season.

This week was a stretch of three straight games, two coming against ranked teams in consecutive days.

The Packers, ranked fourth in the Florida Basketball Coaches Association Class 6A state poll, won all three, including a 53-42 victory over Class 8A, No. 3 Wharton at the Keith MacCollom Shootout on Saturday.

"I'm thrilled with the way we were able to play this week, beating two ranked teams," said Price, whose team knocked off 6A No. 9 Mitchell on Friday. "This was pretty big for us."

On Saturday, the Packers (17-1) relied on their quickness to jump to leads of 16-3 and 24-11.

The Wildcats (16-3) used their perimeter game to go on a 13-5 run late in the second quarter to cut it to 29-25 at the half.

But Wharton never was able to gain enough momentum to take the lead in the second half.

"I knew Wharton would eventually come back," Price said. "I just didn't know they would make it that quickly. We weren't able to play our game, but we were able to play through that and do enough to win."

Brandon Jones had a team-high 19 points for Largo. Chase Litton scored 15 for the Wildcats.

In one of the earlier games, St. Petersburg cruised to a 76-50 win over Tampa Catholic. The Green Devils (14-2) won without Dayon Griffin, a Louisiana Tech signee who was suspended for a violation of team rules, coach Chris Blackwell said. Griffin will return Tuesday against Lakewood.

"There were some in-house things we had to deal with with Dayon," Blackwell said. "It's all resolved. We just had make sure we're doing things the right way as a team."

Darius Banks, a freshman, had 17 points to lead St. Petersburg. But Blackwell said Ben Claire (12 points) was the one who played a pivotal role. "Ben has just been huge for the past few games," he said. "He's really been our centerpiece."

Thomas Dziagwa had a team-high 15 for the Crusaders.

Seminole, thanks to a balanced offense, beat Brandon 50-49. The Warhawks (15-2), who trailed 15-13 after the first quarter, started hitting shots from the outside and went ahead 29-21 at the half.

"That second quarter was big for us," Seminole coach Josh Walker said. "We went up (16-6) and that was the only quarter we led."

The Eagles rallied behind the perimeter shooting of Khevin Wilson, who had 16 points, including five 3-pointers. Tied in 40 in the fourth quarter, TJ Frounfelter hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the Warhawks a 46-40 lead.

"Those 3-pointers were key," Walker said. "TJ has been pretty consistent for us from the outside."

The Warhawks won despite Marco Behori scoring just eight points, 11 below his season average. Tanner Cowan led Seminole with 15.

Also, Palm Harbor University beat Sunlake 65-36, and Bradenton Lakewood Ranch beat Indian Rocks Christian 61-46.

Boys basketball: Largo 53, Wharton 42 01/18/14 [Last modified: Saturday, January 18, 2014 10:38pm]

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