GULFPORT — Gibbs' performance against Boca Ciega was not its prettiest in recent memory. Nor did it stir the emotions of the fans who showed up. But the game was notable for one uplifting reason: the Gladiators beat their neighborhood rival for the second time in as many weeks.
Gibbs bore down in the final minutes Tuesday, hitting two clutch baskets that were key in a 46-42 victory.
The win came six days after the Gladiators (10-4) held on for a momentum-building overtime victory against the Pirates in the championship game of the Northeast Christmas tournament.
"The last time we played was probably our best game all year," Gibbs coach Chad Johnson said. "We didn't put together our best this time around. But we managed to win and that's what I'm pleased about."
Tuesday's game didn't offer much in style points with both teams struggling to get into any rhythm on offense.
In the fourth quarter, Boca Ciega clung to a 41-40 lead when the Gladiators' Charlie Brooks scored on a layup. Moments later, Quincy Ford hit a 3-pointer to put the Gladiators ahead 45-41.
Ford missed eight games with a toe injury before returning for the holiday tournaments.
"Quincy is a versatile player," Johnson said. "He's played well since he's come back and is our secret weapon. The shot he hit was big."
Gibbs' Devante Miley (14 points) and Boca Ciega's Kenneth Smith (12) were the only players to reach double figures in scoring.
The Pirates, who started 5-0, have lost five of their past nine.
"We're not playing with intensity or enthusiasm right now," Boca Ciega coach Randy Shuman said. "That's why I sent them home from practice the other day."