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Friendly pair propels Packers

Tashyra Feazell knows to be successful as a basketball player, she needs to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Good thing Alexis Henry is on her team.

"I always know where she's going to be or where she's going," Henry said. "I can't describe it. It's a connection that can't be explained."

That connection has led Largo to a 14-2 start this season. With Feazell running the offense and Henry providing most of the points, the Packers are off to their best start in years.

Coach Leonard Williams is surprised his young team has been this good, but he's not surprised that his junior guards are a big part of the reason. As Feazell's next-door neighbor, he had seen enough of his young point guard even before she entered high school to know she would be a standout.

And as one of her best friends, Henry was around enough for Williams to figure the two players would be a key to Largo's success in the coming years.

"They're our leaders this year," said Williams, in his fifth season as head coach. "Tish, she's the quarterback. She knows when to push the ball up the court and when to slow it down. Alexis, she's the shooter. She can go inside, or outside. Lots of energy, Sometimes we have to tell her to slow down."

The two have played together ever since they can remember, from AAU ball through middle school and now at Largo. They said they have had two fights in all that time, and can remember neither, though they suspect it was poor pass or shot selection that prompted some friendly criticism on the way back down the court.

Those instances are rare for a reason.

"We know each other so well," said Feazell, who averages 4.6 assists. "I can just put the ball where I know she's going to be. I can't count how many passes I've thrown her over the years. A bunch."

It was a pass that Feazell stole this season that helped jump-start Largo's run. Against St. Petersburg Catholic, she hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the score, and as her momentum carried her forward she was able to step in front of the Barons' inbound pass and throw it up and in at the buzzer as she crashed to floor.

"It will go down in history," Williams said.

The next week, Feazell hit a last-minute shot to beat Boca Ciega. Williams couldn't help but be reminded of Feazell's sister, Dee, a former Packers standout and current assistant coach. Against Clearwater in 2000, she hit the winning shot with three seconds remaining.

It was the last time Largo beat Clearwater, another fact that Williams, Henry and the Feazell can't help but remember. The Packers' record this season does include a loss to the Tornadoes. With Seminole off to an unbeaten start, the Packers think they are being overlooked in their area.

"Hopefully, we'll start getting respect," Williams said. "That's all this team wants. That's what we're working for."

Feazell and Henry, the team's leading scorer with 15.1 points per game, know the easiest route to respect.

"Hey, Clearwater is great, they deserve it, but we have the talent to beat them," Feazell said. "This team is a lot better than last year."

"We can beat them," Henry added, "but it's just a matter of doing it."

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