1. Sports
  2. /
  3. HomeTeam

East Lake finally gets past basketball nemesis

The Eagle boys beat St. Petersburg to clinch first conference crown.
East Lake claims the Pinellas County Athletic Conference title with a 61-39 win over St. Petersburg. (Courtesy of East Lake)
East Lake claims the Pinellas County Athletic Conference title with a 61-39 win over St. Petersburg. (Courtesy of East Lake)
Published Feb. 10

On Saturday, East Lake’s boys basketball team won its first Pinellas County Athletic Conference title.

But it was who the Eagles beat that caused an even bigger celebration.

For nearly a decade, East Lake had fallen short against St. Petersburg.

That changed in the conference championship.

The Eagles ended years of frustration by winning 61-39. It was the first time East Lake’s Britt Taylor had beaten St. Petersburg as a head coach.

“This is big for our team, our kids, our school,” Taylor said. “We finally got over that hump.”

The Eagles felt they were getting close. In the summer, East Lake knocked off the Green Devils.

Still, that it was in games that did not count. Once the regular season started, St. Petersburg continued its mastery in the series, beating the Eagles by double digits twice to claim the top seed in next week’s Class 8A, District 10 tournament.

To get past this stumbling block, Taylor knew he had to take a different approach.

“I told our players that St. Petersburg was just more athletic than us at four of the five starting positions,” Taylor said. “That was not an opinion. That’s just facts. We had to slow the pace down. We had to sacrifice taking good shots for great ones. That took discipline, but they did it.”

By slowing down, the Eagles (20-4) were able to dictate the pace. They were up 24-23 at the half and continued to build on the lead.

Dionte Blanch had 23 points and Jordan Hillmon added 14 to lead the Eagles.

The win comes at an opportune time with the district tournament starting next week.

“We needed this a whole lot more than St. Petersburg did,” Taylor said.

But there is not much time to celebrate.

After all, East Lake could end up facing the Green Devils in the district final and regionals.

“If everything goes right we could see each other two more times,” Taylor said. ‘This one was nice, but we’ll have to come back and do it again.”


  1. Pasco County's seniors took to the field one last time on Friday night. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    River Ridge’s Anthony Roussos accounts for the final scores in a tight matchup.
  2. Bloomingdale's Gabriel Akpewero runs for a touchdown against Tampa Bay Tech on Oct. 4. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
    The game will be held aat Raymond James Stadium
  3. River Ridge's Travis Hawks is one of six Royal Knights playing in the all-star game. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
    The fifth annual game will be held at Sunlake High.
  4. Jesuit 106-pounder Kai Owen acknowledges Tiger fans moments after winning the Class 2A state title with a 2-1 decision last season. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    After seasons of coming close at the state meet, Tiger grapplers are pushing for more this season.
  5. Keswick Christian's Yasmin Baroni tries to rip the ball from the hands of Northeast's Jada Ballard on Thursday. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
    A second-quarter run is all the Crusaders need to stay out in front of their rival.
  6. Tampa Bay Tech sophomores Amiya Evans, second from right, and Janiah Barker, right, could help lead the Titans to one of the highest national rankings of any Tampa Bay area team in history in the 2019-20 season [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    Dynamic duo Janiah Barker and Amiya Evans met as eighth-graders and vowed to never play apart in high school. They kept that vow.
  7. Senior football players in Pinellas County took to the gridiron for their final prep game Wednesday night. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Of the past 15 meetings, the South has been on the losing end 13 times.
  8. In this file photo, Lakewood High School defensive lineman Tre'von Riggins (98) takes a moment during a spring football practice last April. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Measures to prevent heatstroke deaths were among the key items in a bill that unanimously passed its first committee on Wednesday.
  9. A little more than a month into the season, Nature Coast Tech sophomore Kennedy Weissman leads the state in scoring with 41 goals and 92 points, almost double the totals of the next closest player. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The sophomore has a whopping 41 goals so far this season, easily tops of any player in Florida.
  10. Largo's Julia Violante (6), center, gets a hug from teammate Sarai Faulkner (17), right, while joining Asti Luff (23), left, and McKenzie Emery (14) at midfield moments after scoring her second goal of the night (2-0) against St. Petersburg on Monday. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    The University of Florida commit is having a banner season on the pitch, but is missing her biggest fan.