ST. PETERSBURG — Boca Ciega coach Will White teaches history, and knows what they say about those who forget it.
But even he'd have to admit, being doomed to repeat it isn't so bad.
For the 17th straight season, and sixth under White, the Pirates are headed to the state playoff series, the result of reaching the Class 5A, District 9 final with an easier than expected 62-52 win over host Lakewood on Friday night.
The Pirates, state semifinalists last year, will meet Gibbs, which cruised past Seminole 58-47.
That makes tonight's championship one for the ages, because as impressive as the Pirates' streak may be, how about this: Gibbs is headed to the state playoffs for the first time since 1987, a span of 22 years.
"It should be a great matchup," said first-year Gibbs coach Angela Meiser. "What more could you ask from the district — it's a nice grand finale."
The Pirates (25-3) won their 15th straight game with a strong second half as their big three backcourt of Tamara Taylor, Tory Stephens and Latavia Dempsey combined for 51 points.
The Spartans let a 30-25 halftime deficit grow into double figures in the third quarter, and never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
"It's about heart, and they came out with a lot more heart in the second half," said Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil.
Top-seeded Gibbs (21-3) hadn't played in a week, and it showed early as the Gladiators needed five minutes to score their first basket and trailed 7-5 after one quarter.
"We were a little flat," Meiser said. "It took a couple minutes to get us warmed up."
But junior Fahran Franklin scored 10 in the second quarter, and teammate Kamika Idom had nine in the third as the Gladiators opened up a 15-point lead over the Warhawks (12-12) by the fourth quarter.
Idom finished with 20 points, and Franklin had 17.
Seminole's Kesley Geraghty tied Idom for top game honors with 20.