Soon after his Charlotte team had completed a 67-46 victory over Gibbs on Thursday night, senior Chris Stephenson emerged from the locker room and wanted to talk about Lakewood.
"I can tell you one thing for sure," said the 6-foot-3 guard, whose team will meet the Spartans in Tuesday's region semifinals at Eckerd College, "the stars will be out Tuesday."
While Lakewood, which ended Charlotte's season in the region finals a year ago, was busy rolling over Venice, the Tarpons delivered a similar drubbing to Gibbs.
Stephenson and fellow senior Dago Pena combined for 41 points and 21 rebounds for the Tarpons, who used a 53-27 rebounding advantage and aggressive defensive effort to improve to 24-5.
In addition to its rebounding woes, Gibbs shot just 3-of-17 from 3-point range and 11-of-26 from the free-throw line, while giving up a number of second-chance points.
"We knew they were tough on the boards," Gladiators coach Larry Murphy said. "But they were a lot more physical than I thought they'd be. We got pushed around the whole game."
Raymond Brinson finished with eight points and six rebounds for the Gladiators, who failed to finish with a player in double figures.