Evidently, the Sickles Gryphons didn't squander every morsel of their postseason magic last year.
Behind East Tennessee State signee Rashawn Rembert's season-high 31 points, the Gryphons (22-6) rallied from a six-point second-half deficit Thursday for a 72-59 first-round playoff stunner at Punta Gorda Charlotte. The Tarpons (26-2), ranked fifth in 5A, entered the game undefeated against in-state competition.
Guard Tim O'Malley added 18 for Sickles, which faces Chamberlain in Tuesday's region semifinals. The Chiefs lead the season series 2-1, including a 45-43 win in last week's district final.
"This time of the year we're happy just to be moving forward," said Gryphons coach Renaldo Garcia, who led his 2010 club to the 5A state final. "They're the district champs and we're privileged to be coming over and playing them for a fourth time."
Rembert scored 16 in the second half, when Sickles squandered a three-point halftime lead only to pull away in the final 12 minutes.
"We burned a timeout and regrouped," Garcia said. "We got about three or four good offensive possessions and key stops, and they started to get in a little foul trouble. I was proud of how our kids protected that lead because that's something we've struggled with."