ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg showed its resiliency by following a devastating loss to a rival with an impressive victory for another.
The Green Devils beat Gibbs 69-46 Friday and were never truly threatened. The win comes after St. Petersburg lost in overtime to Lakewood on Tuesday.
“The guys were ready for this one,” Green Devils coach Chris Blackwell said. “They bounced back after a tough loss and got after it right from the start.”
Now, there is a three-way tie atop the south division standings of the PCAC among Gibbs, Lakewood and St. Petersburg that could come down to a coin to determine next week’s championship game participants.
On Friday, the Green Devils (18-3) got back into the race by executing a pressing, balanced, up-tempo style early. Within four minutes, St. Petersburg had built a 14-0 lead.
Gibbs (15-6) got back into the game thanks to Barry Brown, who ignited a 15-6 run to cut it to 20-15. But the Gladiators could not get any closer.
Leading 31-24 at the half, the Green Devils got back into a rhythm on offense and went up 52-36 in the third quarter.
Darius Banks had a team-high 20 points for St. Petersburg and eight players scored, including two others in double figures, Pro Wells (13 points) and Dayon Griffin (11).
“We really distributed the ball well and the boys were in tune with each other,” Blackwell said.
Brown had a team-high 24 points, but fouled out in the fourth quarter.
For the Gladiators, it was been a tough stretch. They lost three starters to injuries — Shaq Speights (broken hand), Daniel Davis (broken knuckle) and Tony Walker (ankle). Davis and Walker returned this week. The results showed as Gibbs has lost four games in the past two weeks.
“We’re getting guys back, but they haven’t with us for long,” Gladiators coach Larry Murphy said. “We were limited in what we can run. It’ll take time, but we’ll get better. The key is to be ready when it’s time for the district tournament.”