ST. PETERSBURG — Gibbs' cold start on Wednesday night continued what boys basketball coach Larry Murphy called "a trend."
But after the way his Gladiators responded yet again, he may not have much to worry about.
Because once they got warmed up, the Gladiators took control and kept up the pressure to defeat Largo 63-51.
The Packers (5-6) came out strong, as Adarius Rayner asserted himself inside on both ends of the floor and scored six of Largo's first 12 points.
But the Packers' 18-9 lead after the first period soon evaporated as Gibbs' Deion Miley, who finished with a game-high 21 points, hit consecutive 3-pointers, the second of which brought the Gladiators (11-3) within one. Miley's shot ignited a 13-0 run before halftime.
Despite aggressive play, frequent turnovers kept both teams scoreless in the early going of the third quarter, until senior Robert Kearney scored a layup for the Packers.
After another Largo basket, the Gladiators responded with an 8-2 run, with Quincy Ford scoring all of Gibbs' points. Robert Williams' basket at the buzzer gave the Gladiators a 40-33 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
A three-pointer by Kearney brought Largo within 42-38, but that was as close as the Packers would get the rest of the way.
Miley, who had seven 3-pointers on the night, hit three in the fourth quarter. The last of them gave the Gladiators a 10-point advantage with less than 1:45 to go.
Murphy took his team's slow start in stride. "We knew at some point we'd go on a run," he said.
Murphy added that once his team fell behind early, "We talked about playing tough and playing physical."
Breon Bostic led the way for the Packers with 16 points.
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