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Packers grind out a win

5A

Fans expecting to see freewheeling, dynamic basketball Tuesday night had to shed a tear.

Boca Ciega and Largo have up-tempo styles and prefer to use creative bounce passes through traffic for easy hoops. But when they met, they came face-to-face with each other's withering full-court pressure.

Defense doused the fireworks as the Pirates and Packers leaned into, banged and pushed one another for 32 minutes. Largo won the battle, using its aggressiveness to pull out a 55-40 victory.

The Packers (25-1) will host Lakewood in the region final Saturday night at 7. The game will be a rematch of the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game that Largo won.

"We were very aggressive," Packers coach Dee Feazell said. "I love it. That's our game. We knew we would have to play that way against Boca Ciega. We both like to play intense, pressure basketball. "

Largo turned up the heat in the first quarter by creating turnovers and turning them into layups for a 22-8 lead. Boca Ciega settled down as Tory Stephens hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 13-6 run that closed the gap to 28-21 at the half.

The Pirates' chances to come back took a blow when Stephens, who scored a team-high 13 points, fouled out in the third quarter. Still, Boca Ciega made it a game, pulling to within four before Packers' guard Tish Feazell hit a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter.

"That shot turned the momentum," Pirates coach Will White said. "We were double-teaming someone and Tish got open for a wide-open shot. Mental mistakes hurt us."

Largo cruised from there, relying on clutch shooting by Chelsea Simpson to pull away. Simpson scored 20 points and Feazell had 10 for the Packers.

Tiffany Williams and Whitney Newton each scored 10 for Boca Ciega (24-5).

"It got real physical out there," White said. "It's unfortunate because basketball is starting to resemble wrestling. It's become a game of who can grab and clutch. "

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