Back and forth they went, Gibbs and St. Petersburg, their game coming down to the final possession, the final moment. Every shot, every rebound, every defensive stop was met in kind.
That is how the second half unspoiled Monday night in the championship game of the Fossil Park summer league. For the Gladiators, who escaped with a 36-35 victory, that is how their offseason unfolded as well.
Gibbs’ summer resume was filled with a series of close games. The Gladiators were involved in another one against the Green Devils. Trailing 35-34 in the final 11 seconds, Gibbs was able to come up with a much-needed stop. On their final possession, the Gladiators won on a shot by Undrea Bullard, his only basket of the game.
“I was kind of surprised to get the ball,” Bullard said. “Barry Brown threw a great pass to me, and I was able to do the rest.”
Shaq Speights led Gibbs with 11 points, including two 3-pointers. Darius Banks had a team-high 10 points for St. Petersburg.
Since losing to eventual state champion Jesuit in the Class 5A region semifinals, the Gladiators have been on a roll. Gibbs won every tournament or camp they were in this offseason, including the SEBA league in Tampa. Overall, they were 44-5.
That bodes well this winter considering Gibbs returns nearly its entire lineup and its bench will be bolstered by junior varsity team that went undefeated.
“It was a very productive offseason for us,” Gladiators coach Larry Murphy said. “We played and won a lot of games. But we still have some work to do.”