ST. PETERSBURG — Over the holiday break, Gibbs celebrated a championship run in the Northeast Christmas Tournament with three impressive victories, including a character-building win over rival Boca Ciega.
A little less than a week later, the Gladiators beat their rivals again on the road.
While the victories elevated Gibbs to one of the top teams in the county, it established a confidence the Gladiators feel will lead to even bigger things.
"We definitely turned the corner in that tournament," Gibbs coach Chad Johnson said.
On Friday, Gibbs showcased how much it has grown with a convincing 65-48 win.
"We just sense it," said senior guard Charlie Brooks, who had a game-high 16 points. "Once we beat Bogie, then beat them again, we just feel like we have a chemistry where everyone trusts each other on the court. Once we get into a rhythm, things just flow for us and good things happen."
Against the Patriots (8-7, 1-4), after a brief dry spell at the start of the game, the Gladiators (11-4, 5-0) turned a 6-4 deficit into an 18-8 lead at the end of the first quarter in which six players scored. The hosts capitalized on turnovers, building a 33-18 halftime lead and a 59-32 lead at the end of the third while the Patriots looked as if they were caught up in the upset win over Largo earlier this week.
"We couldn't execute and there might have been a bit of overconfidence on our part," Pinellas Park coach Jon Cabino said.
With the win, Gibbs maintains the lead in the district while Pinellas Park falls to fourth.
Colton Jacobs led the Patriots with 14 points.