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Mike O'Donnell hits six 3-pointers on his way to 32 points and a 78-75 win over the Barons.
By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 4, 2002
For Mike O'Donnell, 3-point range officially begins one step past halfcourt.
The 3-point line?
Why wait that long?
Firing up, and draining, three-pointers from 5 feet beyond the arc, O'Donnell made a mockery of the three-point line as well as coach Phil Price's thinking that the Packers were going to be run out of the gym by St. Petersburg Catholic.
Though the Barons shoveled dirt on the Packers several times, they couldn't bury Largo, which went on to a 78-75 win in its season opener Tuesday night.
"They just wouldn't go away," said frustrated Barons point guard Chad Radosevich.
Largo's band of no-name players, hoping to fill the big shoes left by a talented core of graduated seniors, never seized control but kept the Barons (1-1) from doing so.
There were 15 lead changes heading into the fourth quarter before St. Petersburg Catholic opened up its biggest lead of the game by starting the quarter on a 9-3 run.
Trailing 64-57 with six minutes left, Largo got a hoop from Fred Marshall, and then Trevor Bing spoiled the Barons' attempt at running some time off the clock with back-to-back steals. The first led to Kyle Johnson's layup, and the second Bing took all the way himself to make it 64-63.
Radosevich, who scored 27 points, made two free throws before O'Donnell answered with a 25-foot 3-pointer to tie the game at 66. Twenty-five seconds later, Bing hit his only 3-pointer from the corner to give Largo the lead.
But it changed hands twice more. Finally, O'Donnell made one of his shorter 3-pointers -- this one from a mere 21 feet -- to give Largo a 74-73 lead it wouldn't relinquish.
The Barons got within a point with 11 seconds left, but Largo's Chris Stoughtenger, a senior who rarely saw playing time last year, calmly stepped to the free-throw line and sank a pair and the Barons missed a wild 3-pointer to end the game.
"Coach told me that my playing time depended on how I played tonight," said Stoughtenger, who had eight points. "I wasn't going to mess up. I blocked the crowd out and I wasn't feeling anything."
Unlike Radosevich, who was feeling down afterward. The Barons senior said his team squandered a chance for a big win.
"This was the game I had been waiting for a long time," Radesovich said. "Beating a big public school ... if we had won this game, it would have made a statement. We had them ... we had them, but ... "
But O'Donnell wouldn't miss. He finished with 32 points, made six 3-pointers, had seven steals and just one turnover. Three of his 3-pointers either tied the game or gave Largo the lead.
"That last 3 he hit, it was amazing," St. Petersburg Catholic coach Mike Moran said. "I've had some people say to me, "He's being recruited by Florida? Well, tonight he showed why. He's the real thing."
Largo won despite being outscored 33-9 at the free-throw line. The Barons didn't make a basket the last six minutes but made 14 of 16 free throws in that span.
Radosevich was 13-for-14 from the line. Highly touted freshman Aaron Holmes scored all 13 of his points in the second half. Travis Karto scored all 13 of his in the first half.
For Largo, Julius Oie made his first start and had 14, and Bing added 11 before fouling out.
ST. PETERSBURG -- St. Petersburg rode a steady and efficient offensive attack and pulled away in the second half to best host Gibbs 59-42 in the season opener for both teams Tuesday night.
Green Devils senior Deon Troupe led all scorers with 19 points and Rickey Pena added 15 in the winning effort.
Donald Lovett topped Gibbs with 14 points, including four 3-pointers.
St Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell was pleased with the Green Devils' first game.
"We had some first-game jitters. We came out a little shaky. Coach (Larry) Murphy's team is a hard working team. We finally got it going."
-- STEVE FOLEY