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Dixie too tough in Callier debut


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2001

ST. PETERSBURG -- Last week's Pinellas County exams took effect on athletic teams Friday. For Gibbs, that meant one player gained eligibility, forward Benson Callier, but two starters were lost, guards DeAngelo Woodie and Antez Smart.

While the Gladiators were taking one step up and two steps back, surging Dixie Hollins, with its starting lineup intact, pulled away down the stretch at home to win for the fourth time in five games, 67-57.

Rugged junior forward Rob Martin (20 points, nine rebounds) led the way for Dixie Hollins (9-10). His three-point play with 5:58 remaining gave the Rebels the lead for good and keyed a 13-1 run that put Dixie ahead 60-51 with four minutes to go.

Gibbs (7-14) never got closer than five points after that, and Martin capped the win in style, dunking on a run-out in the final seconds.

"I just think our chemistry has been better (recently), our freshmen are stepping up," Dixie Hollins coach Tom Topping said, referring to freshman Jordan Carrier (nine points) and Jamon Sanders (three points, eight rebounds). "We just did a better job of rebounding the ball (down the stretch), that was the difference."

Senior guard Narada Caldwell added 14 points for Dixie. Chris Davis led Gibbs with 14 points, including four three-pointers.

Gibbs coach Arian Odom said Woodie, the team's leading scorer, and Smart could return to the lineup soon. Woodie said he was informed immediately before the game by a school official that he actually was eligible to play, and he said he would be playing next week.

The Rebels spoiled the highly anticipated debut of Callier, an AAU star who was profiled in a Times article in November. Callier, who is in his fourth year of high school but hadn't been eligible to play until Friday, had 10 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks in 19 minutes. He was hindered by foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul less than two minutes into the second half.

"He played a pretty good game for his first high school game," Odom said. "I'm proud of him for what he accomplished just to get to this point, and I was proud of the way he played."

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