SEMINOLE — Largo coach Phil Price had been waiting for this moment, when his football players would be in basketball mode, when the errant shots would start falling, when his young team would put it together for a signature win against a premier Tampa Bay area power.
He got it Saturday at the MacCollum Shootout at Seminole, where the Packers beat Class 8A, No. 9-ranked Wharton 65-59.
"I told our guys before the game Wharton is a solid team that's always there in the rankings," Price said. "It's definitely one of the biggest wins we've had this season."
Largo (15-5) has played tough against good teams all season. The Packers' only county losses were to public schools Gibbs and Lakewood, and in overtime to independent Oldsmar Christian.
But the Packers were still trying to beat one of the elite programs. On Saturday, they started hot, jumping to an early lead and never relinquishing it. Largo led 33-27 at halftime and went up by as many as 14 in the second half.
The Packers controlled the game thanks to Donovan Hale (15 points), Jonathan Crawford (12) and Reggie Moore (12).
The Wildcats (17-3) cut the deficit to four points in the final two minutes by relying on the inside presence of Chase Litton, who led all scorers with 21 points, and the outside shooting of Sir Patrick Reynolds and Virgil Crump, who each hit timely 3-pointers.
But the Wildcats could not get closer. Hale sealed the game for Largo by hitting two free throws in the final 30 seconds.
"We've been right there in every game," Price said. "We've been waiting for all the football players to come along. It was hard for us to hit shots early in the season, and we're getting them to go in."
In one of the other premier matchups, Tampa Catholic beat Seminole 66-48. Chivarsky Corbett led the Crusaders with 16 points. Matt Cassity had 14 for the Warhawks.
For Seminole (14-3), the loss came one night after beating St. Petersburg in an emotional game that could eventually clinch the No. 1 seed in Class 7A, District 9.
"We didn't put in a lot of preparation for Tampa Catholic," Warhawks coach Josh Walker said. "All our focus was on St. Petersburg. But that's really no excuse. Tampa Catholic is great team, and those are the kind of teams we want to play to help us get better."
HOLIDAY — Dixie Hollins capped a dominant tournament run with a 46-33 championship match victory over Gulf at the Anclote Challenge Duals. State-ranked Rebels wrestlers Luis Aldana (170 pounds) and Andre Matthews (285) went undefeated.