ST. PETERSBURG — For the coaches of Gibbs and Boca Ciega, losses this season have been frustrating, to say the least.
They've seen their teams jump out to leads in each of their losses only to watch their talent-laden squads falter down the stretch.
So on Tuesday, in the semifinals of the Northeast High Christmas Tournament, the Gladiators and Pirates were at it again. Only this time, they both came away with wins.
In the early game, after building a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, Gibbs held off a scrappy Calvary Christian team for a 73-69 victory.
Five players scored in double figures for the Gladiators (8-4), including 14 apiece for Charlie Brooks and Ke'Owen Walker.
"We have to find a way to play a full 32 minutes," Gibbs coach Chadrick Johnson said. "It's frustrating because we have seven seniors, and you would expect us to get it by now that we have to figure out a way to close out games early on and not let teams hang around."
The Warriors (6-6) got inspired efforts by 6-foot-8 center Kyle Wiedinger, who scored 31 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and guard Alex Govan, who went 5-of-7 from behind the arc and had 25 points.
"We're just not used to that type of pressure, speed and length," Calvary Christian coach Mark Carter said. "Once we settled down, we were able to play with them the rest of the game. It's frustrating because we showed we can play with teams like this, but the start just hurt us too much."
Boca Ciega fell behind early 6-2 but finished the first quarter on a 14-4 run and seemed to be on its way to an easy win against Tampa Catholic. The Crusaders, though, scored six straight points to start the second. They battled the rest of the way with the Pirates only to miss two open 3-pointers at the end of the game that would have tied it, allowing the Pirates to escape with a 56-53 victory.
"It's a lead protection problem," Boca Ciega coach Randy Shuman said. "In all three of our losses this year, we've had eight-point leads in the second half and we haven't been able to sustain them."
Kenny Smith and Kyonn Smith each had 14 points to lead the Pirates (8-4), who failed to protect leads of 48-40 and 50-42 in the fourth quarter.
Tampa Hoops Classic: Oldsmar Christian had enough firepower to rally and knock off Woods Haven 75-73 in Tampa. That the victory came without starters Harold Doby and Santoine Butler made the victory a bit more palatable for Oldsmar (9-4). "We've had some ups and downs," said guard Rashad Richardson, who scored a team-high 33. "We've been inconsistent, but we're getting better every game."