ST. PETERSBURG — Gibbs has made a habit this season of finding a way to erase deficits.
On Friday, the Gladiators fell behind 6-0 against St. Petersburg. Sure enough, Gibbs rallied, going up 14-13 less than a minute into the second quarter.
This time, the lead didn't last long.
Relying on air-tight defense, the Green Devils responded with a 17-0 run, more than enough to hold for a 56-45 victory.
The win means Wednesday's St. Petersburg-Lakewood game will decide the south representative in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game.
"We called a timeout early in the second quarter and buckled down on defense right after that," Green Devils coach Chris Blackwell said. "We decided right there we weren't going to let (Gibbs) dictate the flow of the game."
Down 31-16 at the half, the Gladiators (15-6) tried to play catch-up but were hurt by foul trouble and the absence of Quincy Ford, who was out of town. By the fourth quarter, Charlie Brooks, Ryan Williams and Jahar El-Amin had fouled out.
"We were real fortunate to even be in the game in the first quarter," Gibbs coach Chad Johnson said. "St. Petersburg came out with a lot more intensity. It's disappointing because we still had aspirations to be in the conference championship game."
Gabe Moton had 22 points, including four 3-pointers to lead St. Petersburg (19-4).
Gary Simon had a team-high 23 points for the Gladiators.