By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — It took five periods for a winner to be decided in Tuesday night’s Region 7A-3 semifinal between Largo and Port Charlotte High School.
Despite trailing by 10 points at halftime, the Packers came roaring back in what was one of the most exciting fourth quarters you’ll ever see, before defeating the Pirates 93-83 in overtime.
“That was great,” Largo coach Phil Price said. “An atmosphere like this is awesome. I tell the kids to enjoy this. I told the kids they’re going to remember this for the rest of their lives, so make it a good memory.”
Zhahidi Robinson scored six of his game-high 30 points in overtime to help beat Port Charlotte, who closed the game without Sean Price after he fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“We don’t use excuses,” coach Bill Specht said. “Very few teams I’ve been more proud of than this one the way they fought back in this game. They kept fighting, clawing and scrapping.”
It was that fourth quarter where all the action happened.
The Packers led 73-67 with 65 second left on the clock. The Pirates cut it to 76-73 with 18.8 seconds and then Shemar Fleurissant grabbed an offensive rebound, hit the put-back layup and then sank an and-one free throw to tie the game at 76. Both teams had a shot for the win at the end, but couldn’t land their chance.
“I told them, you guys quit the last minute (of regulation),” Largo’s Price said. “When Price fouled out, you thought it was over. It ain’t over. You can’t turn your back, you can’t be lazy.”
Port Charlotte went up 9-8 in the first quarter and held that lead all the way until 2:34 left in the fourth when Julian Cooney tied it and then drilled a free throw to put Largo up 68-67.
That was in the middle of a 9-0 run for the Packers, which was fueled when Bryce Cleveland was called for an intentional foul, which gave Largo (19-7) two extra shots and the ball. Price fouled out moments later.
It was his fifth foul on the night, but might have only been his fourth, had he not been hit with a technical foul early in the third quarter – when Port Charlotte (24-4) held a big lead – for hanging on the rim after a breakaway dunk.
The third quarter is where things began to unravel for the Pirates, who at one time held a double-digit lead. They were called for eight fouls and committed seven turnovers in the period. Port Charlotte gave the ball away 12 times in the second half, as the Largo full-court press began to wear down the Pirates.
“We went up 14 and then we got a little complacent defensively because that’s when they started coming back at us hard,” Specht said. “We just gave up too many easy ones to them.”
Price had 19 points at the half, and finished his night with 24 points. Fleurissant had 23 points. Klayton Morris scored 15 points.
For Largo, Cooney had 21 points. Bobby Roundtree had 13 points and Nirobi Peeler chipped in with 10. Free throws were nearly the reason Largo didn’t win, as they missed 20 shots from the charity stripe.
LARGO 93, PORT CHARLOTTE 83
Largo 12 15 20 19 17 — 93
Port Charlotte 18 19 15 14 7 — 83
Largo (93): Zhahidi Robinson 30, Julian Cooney 21, Bobby Roundtree 13, Nirobi Peeler 10, Tomlinson 8, Bellamy 8, Lockett 3. Totals: 28(6) 31-51.
Port Charlotte (83): Sean Price 24, Shemar Fleurissant 23, Klayton Morris 15, Cleveland 8, E. Johnson 8, Perry 4, Gainey 1. Totals: 29(6) 19-26.