Packers power up after slow start

Largo steps up defensive game in second half, puts away 51-28 victory.

By ROD GIPSON Times Correspondent
Published December 28, 2006

TAMPA - Largo may have been mildly surprised by Jefferson during the first half of its opening-round game at the Keeler Memorial Tournament, but the Packers didn't take any chances in the second half.

Largo (8-3) only led by two points after the first quarter but stepped up its defensive effort and pulled away for a 51-28 victory Wednesday. The win sets up a second-round match against tournament host Academy of the Holy Names. AHN topped Cambridge 75-34.

"We wanted to wear them (Jefferson) down with our defense," Largo coach Dee Feazell said.

"We put pressure on the ball in the second half and wanted to make sure we controlled the game."

Courtney Bell led Largo with 18 points while Uniqueika Walker and Moriah Manoloff added 14 and 10, respectively.

The other opening-round contests saw Freedom hold off Land O'Lakes 37-33 thanks to a strong second-half defensive effort and 10 points from Charlet Davis. Clearwater topped Plant 52-37.

At Blake

TAMPA - Blake jumped on Clearwater Central Catholic early and often. The Yellow Jackets used a balanced attack to race out to a quick 18-2 first-quarter lead and went on to crush the Marauders 54-17. MJ Jachens scored all but four of the Marauders' points.

In the earlier game, Dunedin used a 22-point third quarter to beat Tampa Bay Tech 61-44. Three Falcons scored in double figures, led by Kimarie Book's 14.

Justin Dargahi, Times correspondent

At Armwood

TAMPA - St. Petersburg Catholic turned what was once a three-point game early in the second half into a rout, outscoring Sickles 17-7 in the fourth quarter for a 62-47 win. Forward Sasha Chaplin led SPC (10-4) with 23 points and seven rebounds.

"We start four guards so we want to get into an up-tempo game and force opponents to make mistakes," Barons coach Nick Vandewalle said. "Our bench played really well and helped keep the defensive intensity up."

In the other game, Armwood jumped to an early 9-1 lead and prevented Seminole (4-6) from achieving any offensive rhythm to win 58-29. Seminole struggled with the Hawks' full court press and committed numerous turnovers.

Brendan Galella, Times correspondent

Lakewood wins

Kquanise Byrd hit three long-range shots, including two from half-court, to help Lakewood beat Northview (Ga.) 53-48 in the first round of the Deep South Classic in Atlanta.

The Spartans (12-3) play Greater Atlanta Christian today at 4 p.m.

Byrd, a senior guard, kept Lakewood with a pair of half-court, buzzer-beaters in the first and second quarter. The last long shot cut the deficit to 24-21.

That gave the Spartans momentum as they tied the score at 40 to end the third, then took the lead early in the fourth, thanks to clutch free-throw shooting from Byrd and Innekia Reedy.

Byrd led all scorers with 24 points.

Bob Putnam, Times staff writer