ST. PETERSBURG — The contest between Lakewood and Gibbs was destined for overtime. The game consisted of seven ties and 18 lead changes, and both teams pouring out everything they had for bragging rights and glory.
The Gladiators came away with a 63-57 overtime victory Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd. Guard Gary Simon led his team to victory with a game-high 26 points.
“It’s a neighborhood rivalry, and we knew it was going to go down to the wire,” Gibbs coach Larry Murphy said. “We knew we had to make some plays if we were going to win it.”
Trailing by one in the fourth quarter, Gibbs’ Barry Brown missed a 3-pointer, but Darrel Fuller was in the right spot to fight for the rebound and get the putback, making the score 47-46.
Lakewood (1-1, 0-1) then took a 51-49 lead with a putback from Jacoby Boykins, leaving 44 seconds in regulation.
Simon quickly tied the score while falling to the floor in the paint.
Gibbs (6-0, 2-0) dominated overtime, outscoring Lakewood 12-6. Fuller blocked Lakewood’s Jared Gregory and Simon scooped up the ball and dunked, making the score 61-56.
“This was my turn and I wasn’t going to let them come into our house and win it,” Simon said. “This will be two years in a row.”
Free throws heavily favored the Pirates, 24-8.