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By JOHN SCHWARB
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 19, 2000
LARGO -- For a half, it was impossible to tell the nearly-perfect team from the under-.500 team. Unfortunately for the latter, such odd proceedings simply could not last.
After a sluggish opening half, the Largo girls basketball team regained control on its home floor and knocked off overmatched Dunedin 58-45 in a Class 4A, District 11 game.
The Falcons were inspired from the start, getting 14 points in 14 minutes from floor leader Sarita Merricks, but the Packers scored six unanswered points to go up 29-24 at the half.
Sheena Walton then set up shop in the paint in the second half, scoring 11 of her team-leading 20 to carry Largo (7-1, 4-1).
"The big girl's a major problem," Dunedin coach Rob Odoms said. "We didn't have anyone who could stop her."
Well, one Falcon player did manage to stop her -- Kristen Gonyea accidentally poked her just beneath her left eye at the end of the first half, forcing Walton into the locker room early. But Walton came out for the second half with a bandage and the same dominating presence inside.
With 2:19 left in the third quarter, Walton got position under the basket and scored to give Largo what was then its largest lead at 40-32, and Dunedin (4-8, 2-4) would get no closer.
"Sheena's one of the dominant people in the county right now for a big girl," Largo coach Leonard Williams said. "So far no one has played aggressive on her yet, so we're doing pretty good with her. Everybody's learning to feed the post."
With the win, Largo remained in the three-way dogfight for control of the district with Clearwater and Lakewood, who also have just one district loss. On Wednesday, the Packers face one of their toughest non-district games of the season, playing Armwood (7-2) in a holiday tournament at Leto.
Merricks, Dunedin's lone senior, scored 23 points to lead all scorers. Dunedin got double-digit efforts from four players: Walton, Monique Henson (13 points), Jamie Harper (12) and Dee Feazell (11).