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Three-point shooting and defense tell the tale in Springstead's 54-39 win.
By DAVID MURPHY
Published December 14, 2005
SPRING HILL - Travis Priddy said he had a premonition this would happen, that after a lackluster offensive showing in a lackluster practice, his Nature Coast squad was ripe for the picking against cross-county rival Springstead.
Turns out, the Sharks coach was right.
With a dominant defense that virtually eliminated Nature Coast's inside game and a smooth-shooting backcourt that delivered timely 3-pointers, Springstead topped the Sharks 54-39 and ran its county-leading record to 6-2.
"You have to give them credit," Priddy said after Springstead went on a 16-5 run over the last 2:47 of the fourth quarter to blow a tight game open, "but at the same time, we lost this game yesterday. ... I told my team that."
Springstead's outside shooting and interior defense proved to be the difference. The Eagles hit six 3-pointers - three during a 9-0 run to start the game - and held Nature Coast forward Josh Ortiz to just seven points. Eagles guard Derek Skinner hit three 3s and scored 14 points.
The Sharks, meanwhile, hit just two 3-pointers, shot 16-of-26 from the free-throw line and never seemed to find their offense against Springstead's 2-3 zone.
"We knew we had to go out and play defense," forward Jason Haynes said. "If we hold a team under 40 points, we know we basically have the game."
Springstead held a lead for all but 3:46 of the game's 32 minutes. After taking a 22-18 lead into the halftime, the Eagles allowed Nature Coast to score the first six of the third quarter to take its first lead of the game. But Springstead ended the quarter on a 7-0 run, and with 6:02 remaining in the game got a shot from behind the arc from guard Tim Hennigan that answered a Nature Coast 3-pointer, gave the Eagles a 37-29 lead and seemed to break the Sharks' back.
Nature Coast did not hit a field goal the rest of the way, and the Eagles cruised to the win.
"We knew they were going to try to work the ball inside with Ortiz," said Springstead center Chris Caggiano, who came off the bench to play a crucial defensive role while fellow big men Jeff Haynes and Ethan Selph were in foul trouble.
"They said they were going to put Ortiz on Ethan, so we figured that would leave a lot of the other big men open."
Springstead has defeated all three county schools and is 4-2 in district play.