DOVER — Sickles High has been a proud program for the past decade with multiple trips to the state playoffs. Thursday night, the Gryphons were humbled by a team making its debut in a boys basketball region tournament.
Malik Channer scored 12 points for Strawberry Crest (22-6) to lead a 50-41 victory in a Class 7A-Region 2 quarterfinal. Austin Griffin added 10 for the Chargers, who are unbeaten in 11 games on their home court.
Poor shooting from the field and worse from the free-throw line left Sickles (16-12) down by as many as 22 points in the closing seconds of the first half. Issac Holder had 12 points and Bryce Nickels finished with 11 for the Gryphons.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Strawberry Crest coach Andre Lewis said. “Sickles is a well-coached team, so we knew that they had a run in them and they were going to come back at us. The question was how we were going to answer, and we answered it with defense.”
7A-2: Freedom rolls past Brandon, 58-38
TAMPA — Freedom managed to push a 10-point halftime lead against Brandon to a 20-point victory in a Class 7A-Region 2 quarterfinals Thursday, beating the Eagles 58-38 with three Patriots players scoring into double figures.
Senior Daniel Thompson led the Patriots (17-6) with 16 points as sophomore Sheldon Odunna and junior Miguel Rojas added 12 points apiece.
Freedom coach Cedric Smith said he was pleased with how his team shared the wealth against the Eagles (15-13).
“They’re just playing very unselfish,” he said. “We got guys that are passing the ball, our interior passing was very good and I think that when they’re in here preparing, they’re actually focusing and listening. (Odunna and Rojas) are unbelievable players … as long as they continue to play to their strengths I think we can be successful.”
5A-2: Nature Coast slips past Gulf
BROOKSVILLE — Brooksville Nature Coast pulled away late in the third and early in the fourth quarter to defeat Gulf (16-12) in a Class 5A-Region 2 quarterfinal Thursday, 56-43.
Leading scorer James Grubb scored 14 points, but was limited to two in the first half by a stifling Sharks (21-7) defense. .
Andre Wilson had 13 points, 13 rebounds and three steals for Gulf.
“Their guards were more physical, quicker, stronger, faster, and that hurt us when they broke down the defense,” Gulf head coach Travis Priddy said. “We talked about coming in we can’t get them in transition and you can’t let them get second-chance points, and that was the story of the second half.”
5A-3: Lakewood eliminates Robinson
ST. PETERSBURG — Anthony Lawrence Jr. and Jacobi Boykins combined for 51 points as Lakewood cruised in the Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinals 85-59 past Robinson.
The Spartans used their size and athleticism as most of their points came in transition.
“Those guys are really good athletes,” Anthony Lawrence Sr. said of his team. “They really work hard to get that way. … There’s not too many teams with the size we have.”
Lawrence, a 6-foot-7 junior who’s committed to UCF, also had 10 rebounds and six assists for the Spartans, who used a 13-0 run in the second quarter to extend their lead to 34-16. Boykins had seven points during Lakewood’s second-quarter surge and finished with a game-high 27.
5A-3: Gibbs holds down Jesuit, 60-45
TAMPA — For the first time in more than a month, Gibbs’ Shaquielle Speights suited up, just four days since having a cast on his broken hand removed.
The senior guard didn’t get much time to ease back in, accepting the challenge of marking Jesuit leading scorer Christian Whidden. Speights held the junior forward to just two second-half points (nine total) as Gibbs topped defending 5A state champ Jesuit 60-45 in the Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinals.
The Gladiators and Jesuit played to a halftime tie at 24, before Gibbs (18-8) opened the second half on a 9-0 run and its defense held Jesuit (18-9) outside the arc. Gibbs guard Barry Brown started both the first and second quarters with a 3-pointer for the Gladiators and led all scorers with 22 points.
Speights finished with eight points and Antonio Walker, who also missed time this season with an ankle injury, added 13.
Senior Kyle Sahlsten led the Tigers with 11 points.
3A-2: Tampa Prep dominates Fort Meade
TAMPA — Tampa Prep (24-3) sputtered a bit in the opening minutes of Thursday’s Class 3A-Region 2 quarterfinal, but once the Terrapins got fully cranked up it was trouble for Fort Meade (7-15).
Early in the fourth, in fact, the Terps began cruising under the running-clock rule (35-point lead) before finishing with a 68-28 victory.
It was quite a turnaround from the second quarter when Fort Meade cut Tampa Prep’s lead to 23-17 and had Tampa Prep coach Joe Fenlon scratching his head.
“When you’re dealing with high school kids, who have had a long day at school, you don’t know how they’re going to come out,” Fenlon said. “In the first two quarters we couldn’t put together back-to-back plays. We just didn’t play with the emotion that we normally play with.”
The surge was led by 6-foot-10 sophomore Juwan Durham, who started hitting from close range and blocking one Miner shot after another. Durham finished with a game-high 19 points.
Tampa Prep guard Amari Goulbourne chipped in with 16 points and Marcus Ransom added 10.
3A-2: Phoenix defeat Lakeland Christian
LAKELAND — Junior Michael Obi scored a season-high 35 points to lead Brooks-DeBartolo in a 66-55 win against Lakeland Christian.
The region victory was the first in program history for the Phoenix, who advance to Tuesday’s semifinals against Tampa Prep.
“We set a goal at the beginning of the year and they’re very excited,” Phoenix coach Brian Reeves said. “When you get to this point in the year, you just want to win games. It doesn’t matter if it’s one or 100.”
Brooks-DeBartolo (20-8) led 27-21 at halftime and made 17 of 20 free throw attempts with only eight turnovers. Obi made 14 of 19 field goal attempts and made all seven free throw tries.
The Phoenix beat Lakeland Christian (15-9), 54-34, in the regular season.
“They did some things we were able to prepare for and we did a great job with preparation and the kids came out and executed,” Reeves said.