ST. PETERSBURG — Boca Ciega did everything wrong, and Gibbs did just about everything right.
Now there’s a three-way tie atop the Class 5A, District 12 standings.
With a chance to cement a No. 1 seed, the Pirates fell behind quickly, and permanently as it turned out, with Gibbs in control the whole way in a 72-55 win Thursday night.
With Lakewood, Bogie and Gibbs all tied with one loss in arguably Tampa Bay’s best district, the tiebreaker will likely come down to a blind draw, according to Pirates coach Randy Shuman.
The No. 1 seed wouldn’t meet the No. 2 or 3 seed until the district final, after it is already assured a playoff spot.
The Gladiators (16-3) got 19 points from Daniel Davis and 18 from Barry Brown to bounce back from a loss to Fort Myers last week that snapped a 12-game win streak.
“It was a huge win for us,” coach Larry Murphy said. “It creates the tie, but it’s also big at this point of the year because you’re trying to play your best basketball, and I think we are.”
Gibbs led 19-7 after one quarter as Bogie got off to another of its slow starts, and the lead rarely dipped into single digits from there.
The Pirates (14-3) made one late run early in the fourth quarter, scoring eight straight to pull within 57-49. But Gibbs pulled away again, mostly because of a solid defense and seven free throws from Davis.
Gibbs also held Bogie’s Michael Clark and D.J. White to a combined 11 points. Clark, plagued by early foul trouble and unable to get into a rhythm, did not make a field goal and scored just twice on free throws before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Murphy credited Undrea Bullard, who scored nine points, for his interior defense.
Dallas Moore led the Pirates with 28 points.
John C. Cotey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter