Boys basketball: Sickles 54, St. Petersburg 46
ST. PETERSBURG – Sickles has not just beaten every bay area opponent it has faced this season. The Gryphons have annihilated the local competition, winning each game by 20 or more points.
So Sickles got exactly what it wanted against defending state finalist St. Petersburg: a test.
Locked in a close battle throughout the first half, the Gryphons relied on their defense to pull away in a 54-46 win.
“Anytime you can come over here and be successful in this type of environment it’s a good thing,” Sickles coach Renaldo Garcia said. “I thought we played hard and did enough to get by in a hostile environment.”
The Gryphons (13-3) received a lot of accolades after impressive performances at camps and leagues last summer. They struggled in the preseason and opened the regular season with a loss to Orlando Oak Ridge.
Since then, Sickles has dominated, much like it did in the summer. The other two losses this season have against North Miami Beach and Cincinnati’s Archbishop Moeller.
“The last three to four weeks we have been playing extremely well,” Garcia said. “I think our kids realized our successful summer doesn’t automatically transfer over. We had to work on developing chemistry all over again. The kids have bought in to what needed to do and they got refocused.”
The Gryphons big three – Bryce Beamer, Marcus Cohen and Bryce Workman – all reached double figures in scoring. Workman led the way with 14 points.
Darius Banks, a four-star recruit, did not play for the Green Devils (5-8). Banks still is trying to recover from an ankle injury and might not return until Friday’s game against Countryside.
Serrel Smith led St. Petersburg with 23 points, 19 coming in the first half.
Gibbs 54, Seffner Christian 53: Deondrick Harper hit a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds left in regulation to lead the Gladiators to their biggest win of the season.
Trailing 30-23 at the half, the Gladiators (10-4) cut away at the lead until the game was within a point in the final seconds.
Frank Gilliam, a freshman who transferred from Northside Christian, led Gibbs with 16 points.
The Gladiators have won seven of their past eight.
For the Crusaders (9-5), it was their second loss in the past three games.
East Lake 63, Lakewood 51: A night after exacting revenge against Palm Harbor University, the Eagles had perhaps their biggest win of the season.
Trailing by four points at the half, East Lake outscored the Spartans 24-7 in the third quarter to take control of the game.
It was the Spartans’ first loss to a bay area team this season.
After a 1-3 start, the Eagles (10-4) have won nine of their last 10. Jack Abberger had a team-high 16 points for East Lake.
Calvary Christian 70, Freedom 44: The Warriors won their third straight by 16 or more points. Ahead 36-18 at the half, Calvary Christian (13-4) maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half and was able to empty its bench midway through the fourth. Three players scored in double figures for the Warriors, led by Paxton Wilson with 12 points.