NEW PORT RICHEY — Whenever Gulf needed a key basket, assist or rebound down the stretch, it seemed like guard Chris Gregory was right in the thick of things.
In a back-and-forth contest the 5-foot-10 sophomore shined, scoring 14 second-half points to help Gulf to a 61-55 victory over Anclote on Friday night at the Bever Hicks Center.
"My team trusted me with the ball when it counted the most," Gregory said. "They trust me, I trust them. I stepped up and made some big 3s. This was not only just a big district game, but a rivalry game. We just wanted to come out and earn a win."
Gulf (3-2, 2-2) took control early, with a 14-7 surge led by Gregory's seven points. Anclote (2-4, 2-2) climbed back into the game behind a solid effort on the boards, as the Sharks outrebounded the Buccaneers 37-25 and forced 11 first-half turnovers. The Sharks took their first lead with 1:35 left in the third quarter after a Dylan Walsh (six points) layup put Anclote up 38-37.
The momentum shifted in Gulf's favor with 6:36 remaining as Gregory (21 points, three assists) made a crucial layup and was fouled. He made the ensuing free throw to put the Bucs ahead 46-42. Anclote could not regain its footing, missing numerous layup opportunities in the final quarter.
Sevy Galati led the Sharks with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
"This loss stings because it's a district loss," Anclote coach Jason Szymanski said. "Our team missed 14 layups and I don't care who you are, but you're not going to win any game missing that many layups.
"We just have to regroup and find an offense that works."