GLADIATORS 54 COUGARS 31
By Eric Horchy | Suncoast NewsCLEARWATER - For the better part of five minutes, things looked pretty good for host Countryside to pull off a sizeable upset.
Published: January 4, 2013
Published: January 4, 2013
The Cougars were breaking Gibbs’ press smoothly, Gladiators’ shots weren’t quite finding their marks and the score stayed manageably low.
Replicating that performance over 32 minutes, though, proved challenging.
Countryside (10-6) did keep Friday’s Bella Kouzina Cougar Holiday Classic championship game from getting completely out of hand, but Gibbs and its superior size and athleticism slowly pulled away for the 54-31 win.
"We set the tone with our defense early and I thought for 32 minutes we pretty much dictated the flow of the game," said Gibbs coach Larry Murphy. "We just try to wear you down and wear you down and hopefully our defense will lead to layups and easy baskets."
The Gladiators (13-2) spotted Countryside an early 4-0 lead before ending the first quarter on a 13-4 run. Junior guard Shaquille Speights revved the offense’s engine with 10 of his 12 total points coming in the opening period.
It was all Gibbs from there, as the Gladiators took a 27-15 lead into the break and expanded it to as many as 23 at multiple points of the second half.
Guard Barry Brown and forward Corion Williams added 10 points each to join Speights as the three Gladiators finishing in double figures.
Although Gibbs came out as the clear-cut victor, Countryside will be able to use the defeat as a learning experience moving forward, said coach Myron Huey.
"We slowed the game down a little bit and we were spacing it out pretty good, but once we got into their rhythm is when the separation began. And they’re good at that.
"Our goal was to hold them in the mid-50s," he added. "That’s what we had to do to have a shot. The other thing was that we had to shoot the ball really well. We shot 60-something percent last night, but it wasn’t against these long arms."
Gibbs’ array of big-bodied forwards – Williams, Undrea Bullard, Sajon Ford, Latroy Killens – made simply getting shots off in the post extremely difficult all night.
The lone Cougar to finish in double figures scoring was Kam Smith, with 11 points. The senior’s eight rebounds also led all players.
Gibbs defenders frustrated Darnell Lovett, Countryside’s top scoring threat, from the get-go and limited the senior to nine points.
The Gladiators’ victory pushed its current winning streak to 10 games as it heads back into the regular-season schedule next week.
Earlier in the day, Venice took home third place by beating Miami Florida Christian, 76-61. Lakeland earned fifth with a 61-39 win over Lakewood Ranch and Palm Harbor University beat East Lake, 51-38, in the seventh-place matchup.
Gibbs - 13 – 14 – 16 – 11 --- 54
C-Side - 8 – 7 – 9 – 7 --- 31