Gibbs wanted to show that its 55-42 win over St. Petersburg this season was no fluke. Behind 17 points from Naason Borden, it did just that with a 62-54 victory Friday night.
Borden made 4 of 7 3-pointers, and Marreese Speights scored 13 and added eight blocks for the Gladiators (16-4). The Green Devils shot 29 percent (18-of-62) from the field. The Gladiators held St. Petersburg's Ricky Pena to six points before he fouled out in the fourth.
"We just wanted to make them earn every shot," Gibbs coach Larry Murphy said. "I told them to let the defense take control and dictate the flow of the game. I thought we'd be able to hold on and stop them on the defensive end. This is a real big win for us."
Marquis Ford led the Green Devils with 17 points. Brian Blakely added 10 and was the only other St. Petersburg player in double figures.
Gibbs led by as much as 14 in the fourth quarter, but Ford's six points in the final minutes brought the Green Devils (14-5) within six with 1:01 left. The Gladiators held on thanks to key free throws by Donald Lovett with 45 seconds left.
Gibbs led 12-6 after the first quarter. St. Petersburg outscored the Gladiators 17-16 in the second quarter but still trailed 28-23 at the half.
St. Petersburg failed to close the gap in the third quarter and trailed 43-33 at the end of the quarter.
LAKEWOOD 72, SARASOTA BOOKER 50: The host Spartans expanded their 31-22 halftime lead thanks to a half-court zone defense that keyed on the Tornadoes' outside shooters. Lakewood contested nearly every pass, shot and attempt at dribble penetration in the second half. It held the Tornadoes to a nine-point third quarter that put the game out of reach.
_ JEREMY WRITT