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Gulf continues to find success in summer play

Gulf is not exactly going from worst to first, but it is making a habit of being the lower-ranked team that moves into contention for the Beef O'Brady's Summer Basketball League championship.

Gulf, which made it to the title game last year despite being seeded seventh in the post-season tournament, continues to play well and pulled off an upset in Thursday's first round.

The team, seeded sixth, snapped an 0-7 mark against No. 3 seed Tampa Catholic with a 71-53 victory. With the upset, Gulf advanced to Tuesday's final four, which will be played on its home court.

In Thursday's other games, all the higher seeds advanced. No. 4 Hudson defeated No. 5 Mitchell 53-45, No. 2 Land O'Lakes topped No. 7 Central 54-37, and top seed Palm Harbor U. knocked off No. 8 River Ridge 54-36.

"There was really only one upset and I'm happy to say it was us," Gulf coach Steve Feldman said.

"It surprised me a little bit by the margin of victory. We kind of have gotten hot here at the right time."

Gulf, which at one point led by 27 points, was paced by Joe Phillips' game-high 22. Teammates C.J. McLeod (12 points), Lytsz Diometre (12) and Trent Kennison (11) also scored in double figures.

Scott Collington led Tampa Catholic with 15 points.

Beating Tampa Catholic was especially rewarding for Feldman since Tampa Catholic coach Don Dziagwa is a close friend and was the best man at his wedding.

"We have our own personal rivalry, but he still owns me," Feldman said.

The next step for Gulf is to repeat last year's semifinal upset of Land O'Lakes. Those teams play Tuesday at 7 p.m.

"We've talked about (last year's 44-43 overtime loss to Gulf)," Land O'Lakes coach Dave Puhalski said. "They knocked us out and we need to avenge that."

Feldman is counting on strong play from Phillips, a 5-foot-7 guard who will be a junior this fall, to prevent Land O'Lakes from reversing last year's outcome.

"What a pistol," Feldman said of Phillips. "He's so savvy on the floor."

Drew Weatherford and J.W. Bryant led Land O'Lakes in its win over Central with 18 and 10 points, respectively.

Hudson's Rob Bethel led his team to victory with 14 points and was matched by Mitchell's Jason Weaver, who also had 14.

For River Ridge, Drew Thomas scored 19 in his team's loss to PHU, which got 17 from Everson Holmes.

PHU and Hudson will meet at 8 p.m. in Tuesday's other semifinal.