TARPON SPRINGS — This summer Tarpon Springs did some impressive things, winning more than 30 games, including victories over established programs such as King, Largo, St. Petersburg and Springstead.
But Spongers coach James Margarella wants the same intensity in practice that was displayed in offseason league games. So Margarella kept his hand on the lever, tweaking his lineup by sitting some starters who were not getting the message.
Largo took advantage early on in Tuesday's game, carving up the Spongers with penetration and passing en route to an 11-0 lead.
The Packers kept it going to win their season opener 84-69.
"It was ugly," Largo coach Phil Price said. "But as a first game outing, I'm not upset. I was pleased effort-wise, just not execution-wise. We strive to only have 15 turnovers a game and we matched that in the first half."
Once the starters were reinserted, Tarpon Springs came to life, going on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 11-9. The Spongers continued to keep it close as CJ Bargman hit a halfcourt 3-pointer as time expired in the first quarter to trail 19-15.
But Tarpon Springs couldn't get any closer, and the Packers' experience started to take over. In the second quarter, Largo outscored the Spongers 24-18.
Ahead 43-33 at halftime, Largo widened the gap with a 19-10 third-quarter advantage.
"We started off real strong," Price said. "But then we let them right back in it. Still, we did enough to win."
Patrick Kearney, who shot well from the perimeter, scored a team-high 30 for the Packers, including five 3-pointers. Other Largo players who reached double figures were Darron McNeil (14 points), Justin Feliciano (13) and Breon Bostick (12).
Brandon Hynes led Tarpon with 23 points.
"We have a lot of young guys contributing," Margarella said. "We just need to match our intensity in practice and finish near the basket in games."