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By JOHN C. COTEY
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2001
NEW PORT RICHEY -- Hudson coach Steve Casel is a glass-is-half-full kind of guy.
So despite the fact his team played a woeful first half, a shaky third quarter and missed a slew of easy shots, he preferred to focus on his team's thrilling fourth-quarter rally against Gulf on Thursday. Though it fell short, Casel remained in good spirits after the 60-50 loss.
"They gave a great effort," Casel said. "We take pride in that we've never lost a game. We just run out of time."
And the Bucs breathed a sigh of relief as Hudson fell short in knocking what had been an 18-point lead to start the fourth quarter to just four with three minutes left.
Its lead down from 44-26 to 51-47, Gulf regrouped and escaped to improve to 12-3 and snap its longest losing streak of the season at two games.
"This was like the first time we played them," Gulf coach Steve Feldman said. "It was very similar in that they made a great run, and, by God, they almost did the same thing here."
Actually, Hudson (3-12) did make a run, just not one long enough.
It scored the first nine points of the quarter, and after Gulf's Lytsz Diometre hit a three-pointer to make it 49-37, the Cobras added an eight-point run as Ryan Sayre hit three consecutive baskets.
Trailing by just four, Hudson had a chance to cut into the lead even further but failed to convert, missing three inside shots on one possession and then getting whistled for a traveling on a fast break on the next.
Gulf countered by scoring the next eight points as Mike Stanzione broke out for an easy layin and made two free throws.
It was the third time this season the Bucs beat Hudson, including a victory in the final of the Jesuit Holiday Tournament.
Nate Goad led the Bucs with 19 points and keyed a first-half surge for Gulf. His high-flying follow basket gave Gulf a 17-9 lead, and his and Diometre's three-point plays capped a 14-2 run at the end of the first half.
Joe Phillips, who made two three-pointers in the third quarter to stymie Hudson, and Diometre scored 13 points for Gulf. Hudson was led by Sayre with 11, nine coming in the fourth quarter.