SPRING HILL — While Springstead dominated last season, Nature Coast sat back and waited patiently for its turn.
Tuesday night the Sharks showed it was their time to shine with a 74-40 victory over the Eagles on Springstead's home floor.
"It's our rival, so it brings out the intensity and the emotion," Nature Coast coach Dave Pisarcik said. "I've never beaten (Springstead) in this gym, so it's a good feeling to finally beat them here."
With the holiday break around the corner, the jam-packed crowd featured stars from last season's Class 4A state runnerup Springstead squad. Dante Valentine, Domnique Roberson and Isaiah Mason were on hand to watch their old team. The happy reunion was short-lived.
Nature Coast (11-1) made sure of that behind the strong inside-outside combination of Adam Smith (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Blake Lowman (10 points, three rebounds, six assists, three steals).
"The kid that hurt us tonight was Adam Smith," Springstead coach Steve Thompson said. "They were able to take us out of everything we wanted to do."
Smith's second-chance offensive efforts made it impossible for Springstead (2-5) to mount any sort of comeback. Smith and Tyler Bergantino (seven points, five rebounds, four blocks) controlled the paint all night.
Lowman beat the Eagles at something they should be all too familiar with — pressure on the ball. His backcourt influence forced Springstead into turnovers, and when given the opportunity he was able to hurt the Eagles with his passing and shooting, knocking down two 3-pointers.
Both teams were without key players. Nature Coast was missing starting guard Jamel Byrd, who was sitting out for disciplinary reasons, and Springstead did not have Will Hall, one of the team's leading scorers. Hall is serving a suspension from school.
Nature Coast also emerged with a lopsided victory in the girls opener earlier in the evening when the Sharks topped the Eagles 64-6.
Behind 17 points from Jen Marshall, Nature Coast (11-2) held a 50-4 halftime advantage over Springstead (0-10) on the way to the win.