Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gibbs' growth spurt comes just in time for districts

Charlie Brooks, left, is a dangerous scoring option for the Gladiators. Gibbs has won six of its past seven games, including a 3-0 record in the Northeast Holiday tournament.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times (2008)

Charlie Brooks, left, is a dangerous scoring option for the Gladiators. Gibbs has won six of its past seven games, including a 3-0 record in the Northeast Holiday tournament.


At no point this fall was Gibbs at the center of the county boys basketball discussion. After all, the Gladiators have made the playoffs just twice in the past 16 seasons and have not won a district title since 1994. Yet two months into the season, Gibbs is 13-5 after winning six of its past seven games. The Gladiators' unexpected transformation has them headed into Friday's game at Largo with a chance to vault into sole possession of first place in Class 5A, District 12. And with wins over the Packers and Boca Ciega next week, Gibbs can claim the top seed in the district.

"I knew we had a great team with a lot of experience," coach Chad Johnson said.

Nearly everyone from last year's team that lost in the district semifinals returned. Gibbs also got a boost with a full season from Quincy Ford, a former homeschooled student who was bogged down in paperwork and only got to play in the district tournament last season.

Another surprise came with the addition of Jahar El-Amin, who transferred from Oldsmar Christian.

Though the pieces were in place, there was no reason to expect the Gladiators would make any significant turnaround through mid December.

At the Bright House Shootout, Gibbs lost two of three games and fell to 7-4.

"It was frustrating because we played well in the first half of those and let leads slip away," Johnson said. "We did a lot of soul searching after that."

There comes a time in a program's turnaround when all the planning comes together for one glorious moment. For the Gladiators, that moment came in the Northeast Holiday tournament in late December, when they went 3-0, including a victory over rival Boca Ciega in the championship.

"We just came into that tournament ready to win," said forward Ke'Owen Walker. "That win against Boca Ciega gave us a lot of confidence."

Walker has teamed with Charlie Brooks to give the Gladiators a solid 1-2 scoring punch. Gibbs will need that and more to knock off Largo, which has just one loss in the district and the upper hand for the top seed.

"The big thing we have to do against (Largo) is defend the 3-point shot," Johnson said. "They got up us on quick the first time and led 15-2. If we can stop that, I think we might have a chance."

Bob Putnam can be reached at

Gibbs' growth spurt comes just in time for districts 01/20/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 11:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tim Tebow came into their life, and never left


    There are a lot of stories about Tim Tebow connecting with people during his life, Tebow inspiring them and Tebow being inspired.

    Boomer Hornbeck of Naples, Fla., has battled cerebral palsy and undergone surgery after surgery in the hopes of allowing him to one day walk. Inspired by Tim Tebow, and encouraged by his relationship with him, Hornbeck has become a motivational speaker.
  2. For starters: Rays at Jays, with Longoria moved to No. 2 spot in order


    UPDATE, 1:03: Manager Kevin Cash made an even bigger change in the Rays lineup today, moving 3B Evan Longoria from his usual No. 3 spot up to second. And he stuck with Brad Miller in the leadoff spot.

    Here is the lineup:

  3. Tony Dungy on Twitter: I'm donating $5K to move Confederate statue, Bucs, Rays and Lightning should act too


    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach and Tampa resident Tony Dungy announced publicly today that he's contributing $5,000 to a fund to move a Confederate monument out of downtown Tampa.

    Tony Dungy in 2011. [Getty]
  4. The legacy of Tim Tebow's baseball summer


    CLEARWATER — It was about three weeks ago. A Saturday night. I sat behind home plate at a Charlotte Stone Crabs game at Charlotte Sports Park. There was a professional baseball scout sitting just behind me with a speed gun in his hand. He had seen the whole thing.

    Seth Bosch, left, of Punta Gorda, Fla., met Tim Tebow in Port Charlotte, Fla., in late July when Tebow, while in the on-deck circle during a game, shook hands with Seth through the backstop screen. The moment was captured on video by Seth's mother, as was the home run Tebow promptly hit in his ensuing at bat. Seth, who has high-functioning autism and other health issues, celebrated wildly and the video went viral. PHOTO PROVIDED