PINELLAS PARK — It wasn't exactly the way Gibbs had planned on making a run at the playoffs, but the Gladiators will take their second appearance in the postseason in three years.
Bria Bostick scored a game-high 18 and Kiara Murphy added 11 Wednesday as Gibbs beat Northeast 57-47 to advance to the Class 5A-12 final. The Gladiators will face Boca Ciega, a 64-27 winner over Largo.
"It's going to be a tough game (against Boca Ciega), but if we play the type of defense we did tonight then who knows what might happen," said Bostick, who is one of two freshman starters for Gibbs (4-13). "It's been hard for us to get used to all the changes that happened, but we think we have the talent (at Gibbs) to compete with Bogie and Lakewood each year."
Third-year coach Angela Meiser, who had led the Gladiators to their first postseason appearance 22 years in her first year at the helm, resigned after four games because of health reasons. Teddy Johnson, a teacher at Gibbs, was named interim coach.
"We've had to deal with a lot of transition and the girls have handled it with a lot of poise," Johnson said after the team's fourth win of the season. "When they put their mind to playing defense, they can actually be a pretty good team. We'll see how they do Friday."
The Gladiators trailed the Vikings after the first quarter but went on an 8-0 run midway through the second quarter to take a 27-26 lead into halftime.
The teams traded leads four times in the third quarter before the Gladiators outscored the Vikings 12-2 over the end of the third period and start of the fourth.
In the nightcap, Boca Ciega (20-5) led from the beginning in the rout over the Packers (6-14) as Jakera Allen and Tamara Taylor each scored 18 and Destiny Brown scored 12