SPRING HILL — Undefeated Springstead somehow found another gear to kick its game into Saturday night during its Class 4A boys basketball region final, and Ocala West Port was the victim.
Springstead used the momentum of an energetic crowd and a load of emotion to overwhelm the visiting Wolf Pack 76-47.
The Eagles (30-0) will be making their first trip to the state final four in program history Thursday thanks to the same frenetic style that has made them so dangerous all season. Led by their senior core, including floor general Dante Valentine, physical forward Dominique Roberson and leading scorer Isaiah Mason, Springstead forced turnovers and scored at will.
"This is surreal," Valentine said. "I never fathomed we'd get this far (at the beginning of the season)."
Next up: a state semifinal in Lakeland against Pensacola (27-5), a 75-69 winner over Jacksonville Andrew Jackson.
On Saturday, Springstead's senior trio filled the stat sheet. Mason scored a game-high 22. The undersized center also added 10 rebounds, five assists and five blocks. Valentine, the master of the organized chaos that is the Eagles offense, scored 18 and added four assists, nine rebounds and seven steals. Roberson was also in double figures with 12 and had six rebounds and a game-high seven assists.
"This was just a crazy environment to play in tonight," Mason said. "Everyone kept telling me that I needed to have a big game, so I did everything I could to do that."
West Port (23-7) had a massive advantage in size but was unable to capitalize on the boards or defensively. The Wolf Pack was overmatched both in rebounding (33-20) and in blocks (12-1). The lead was pushed as high as 32 in the second half. Marquis Scott paced the Pack throughout the contest, scoring 18, including three 3-pointers.
Springstead used only a six-man rotation during the bulk of the game, and forward Sal Latimer was a major key to the Eagles' first-half output. Latimer scored 12 and blocked three shots as the first player off the bench.
"You never want to look back after a game like this because we know we have another one ahead," Springstead coach Pat Kelly said, "but this (achievement) is a credit to the kids and their commitment to our goals."