Five players scored in double figures as the defending Class 3A, District 11 champion Gibbs Gladiators annihilated East Lake 109-41 Wednesday night. The No. 3-seeded and host Gladiators play the winner of tonight's Lakewood-St. Petersburg game Friday night at 6 at Eckerd College. The Green Devils came from behind to edge Venice 68-65 earlier Wednesday. In the opening game, Osceola defeated Tarpon Springs 24-14.
Action continues today at Gibbs High with Boca Ciega playing Bradenton Bayshore at 4. In the second game, No. 2-seed and Pinellas County Conference champion Lakewood plays St. Petersburg at 6. Bradenton Southeast, the top-seeded and No. 1 ranked team in the Class 3A state poll, plays the Warriors at 8 p.m.
Gibbs (23-7) played like the team that advanced to the Class 3A state tournament last season.
The Gladiators raced to a 30-4 lead and had 10 different players score in the lopsided game. As a team, Gibbs had nine dunks, four three-pointers and 18 steals.
"If we are anticipating playing Lakewood again we better be ready," Gibbs coach Fred Dyles said. "We've been struggling all year but it was different tonight."
Junior forward Dwight Brown paced the Gladiators with 20 points. Pat Lawrence added 17, Bill Teal contributed 16 and Antwan Smith chipped in 15 points. Junior forward Bryan Odom added 12 points and senior guard Anthony Boykins came off the bench to score nine points.
In earlier action, St. Petersburg roared back from a 60-48 deficit in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter and won for the first time since December.
"I'm proud of the way we fought back," St. Petersburg coach Jamey Baby said. "I really thought we had a chance tonight and our seniors came through."