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Boys 6A-7 hoops: Sickles rallies past St. Petersburg
By Rod Gipson, Times Correspondent
Published February 10, 2008
TAMPA - The third time was again a charm for Sickles, but it was by no means easy.
For the third straight season, Sickles is the district champion. And for the third straight season, the Gryphons had to knock off St. Petersburg to get there.
Sickles overcame a four-point fourth-quarter deficit and clamped down on defense for a 55-49 victory. The Gryphons (21-6) will host Plant City on Thursday while St. Petersburg (17-8) will travel to Lakeland.
"Each time we play, it's really competitive," Sickles coach Renaldo Garcia said. "Both teams play hard, every possession is critical and a four-point lead when these teams play means nothing."
Ahead by four at halftime, Sickles maintained an advantage for most of the quarter. That was until St. Petersburg's Gabriel Moton and Justin Minetts nailed back-to-back 3-pointers as part of a rally that tied the score at 38 at the end of the third quarter.
The Green Devils kept at it as the fourth quarter started, eventually taking a 44-41 lead with four minutes remaining.
That's when Sickles switched to man-to-man defense. The Gryphons took off, getting 3-pointers from Jared Johnson and Kelvin Daniels as part of a 12-4 run to turn the four-point deficit into a five-point advantage for the win.
Daniels led all scorers with 17, while Jordan Davis added 14 for the Gryphons. St. Petersburg was led by Minetts' 10 points.
"That was the turning point of the game," St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell said of Sickles' defensive change. "We cracked under the pressure. You have to come to play, and right there at the end, (Sickles) did the things they needed to do to win."