By MIKE READLING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2002
TAMPA -- Largo coach Leonard Williams had seen Wharton's Candice Dupree play before on film and had heard all there was to hear about the Wildcats' 6-foot-4 center. He knew of the headaches associated with guarding her, not to mention the heartache that comes with the inability to do so.
Friday night, Williams got the chance to find out firsthand as his Packers took on Wharton in the semifinals of the A.P. Leto Holiday Classic. Only he had a cure -- let Dupree do all the work and neutralize the rest of the team.
It worked perfectly.
Dupree scored 26 points, accounting for all but 11 of Wharton's points, and tied her career high with 15 blocked shots. She also added 14 rebounds and three steals in an all-for-nothing effort as Largo advanced to today's 6 p.m. championship game with a 48-37 victory.
"She's a real good athlete, she has a good touch," Williams said. "My basic plan was just to put a body on her. Then we changed up our defense in the second half and tried to get their guards out of the game. I thought if we could get them out, they couldn't get the ball into the big girl."
That body Williams talked about turned out to be Shaneisha Walton. Walton earned the job of trying to hold Dupree in check while providing her typical offensive output for Largo. She responded with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 6 blocks and 4 steals.
The difference in the game turned out to be a six-point Largo run at the end of the first half that put the Packers (11-1) up by four. Largo then opened the third quarter with Walton hitting a layup and free throw to lengthen the lead. The Packers outscored the Wildcats 12-6 to finish the quarter and knocked Wharton (11-3) out of contention.