LARGO — The Largo-Gibbs rivalry is alive and well, and Friday night’s battle was no exception. Physical play, technical fouls and a bit of trash talk fueled the contest with both teams determined to intimidate.
The first half was plagued with careless shooting as neither team took advantage of the other’s misfortunes. The Gladiators were unstoppable in the second half though, forcing the Packers into 24 turnovers and cruising to a 66-41 victory.
“That’s what we do,” Gibbs coach Larry Murphy said. “We pride ourselves on defense.
“(Largo) was playing zone, and I felt like we were getting the open shots but we weren’t able to knock some shots down. Second half, I thought we shot the ball well.”
Clinging to a one-point lead, Gibbs (3-0) went on a 10-0 run in the third quarter to take a 41-30 lead. Barry Brown drained two 3-pointers during the run. Brown led Gibbs with 15 points.
“I personally felt I played sloppy in the first half and I owed it to my team to come out and play better in the second half,” Brown said.
Gibbs guard Gary Simon played an all-around excellent game, scoring 13 and grabbing five rebounds.
Largo (1-1) couldn’t get any momentum during the second half, struggling to beat Gibbs’ fullcourt press and throwing the ball away with impatient passes.
During the fourth quarter, the Gibbs crowd erupted after Simon took off on a breakaway with one of his three steals on the night, finishing with a highlight reel dunk, making the score 57-36.
“The atmosphere was good and I think this rivalry is good for the area,” Murphy said.