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East Lake proves no match for Largo

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 12, 2002

LARGO -- One can say this about East Lake and Largo: They both belong to Class 5A, District 9.

That's pretty much where the similarities end.

In a game between the remaining undefeated teams in district play (both were 3-0), the Packers showed they belong in a class by themselves with an 86-62 victory.

The win gives Largo, 15-2 and ranked No. 1 in 5A, the clear edge for the top seed in the district.

"This was obviously a big district win for us," Packers coach Phil Price said.

"I'm real happy with the effort, especially in the second half."

In the first half, Largo built a big lead thanks to the play of Alvin Gunter and Brian Richardson. Gunter had 15 of his team-high 25 points in the half and Richardson connected on three of his four 3-pointers to help the Packers go ahead 36-24.

But the lead dwindled to 38-33 by halftime and Price pleaded with his team to remain patient.

"I told the players we just needed to play smarter and allow things to develop," Price said. "We got hot for a while in the first half, but East Lake did a good job of coming back."

The Eagles managed to rally with a depleted lineup.

Forward Jeremy Howard was dismissed from the team this week for violating the school's code of conduct and Mike Andrews was on a recruiting trip for football.

So East Lake turned to Jimmy McCreery, Greg Cummings and Dalen Cuff, who each scored 10 or more points in the first half.

"I have to give East Lake credit for cutting the lead to five," Price said.

"Cuff and Cummings are both tough players."

East Lake's resurgence, however, was short-lived.

The Packers outscored the Eagles 23-10 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.

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