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GHS boys hoops solid in OBC, 9A-7

Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 7:00 am

By Ken Jackson
Sports Editor

If they were rusty, Gateway’s boys basketball team didn’t show it last week in scoring its fourth consecutive victory.

The Panthers moved to 10-3 on the year last Thursday with a defensive-driven, inside-shot 52-41 win over District 9A-7 foe Davenport Ridge. Gateway didn’t allow the Bolts to make a field goal until the second quarter, when Coach Travis James’ team took a 20-13 lead on the inside play of forward Tyreek Robinson (22 points, nine rebounds).

Ridge (12-5) showed grit and closed it to 20-19 at the half with three-pointers on their final two second-quarter shots. But Robinson went back to work in the second half, scoring 14 points and helping Gateway open a lead that reached 15 at one point.

Point guard Kevin Barrerio (six points, four assists) ran an offense that committed just nine turnovers. Elvin Jimenez added 11 points and Jonel Aponte chipped in eight off the bench.

It was Gateway’s first game since a pre-Christmas tournament, a 3-0 romp through the Execute to Impact Christmas Shootout at Port Orange Atlantic.

Gateway stretched the winning streak to five on Saturday with a 58-50 win against host Wildwood in the Nathan Hayes Memorial Classic.

The Panthers are currently a solid second place in the county and in 9A-7 to reigning state champion Osceola, who has not lost a game in the local area code this season. Their only loss in the Orange Belt Conference or 9A-7 thus far was a 55-46 road loss to the Kowboys.

According to James, who pegged his team as third in the county and district at the start of the year, it’s been a solid start.

“It’s been going well so far,” he said. “The guys on the team are learning their roles, and Tyreek is developing a post game that we can rely on to be there. We’ve won some close games that we made a little ugly, some nights I wish these guys would make my life easier. So we’re working on cleaning up the mental mistakes in closing games. But we’re going the right direction.”

James said its biggest asset might be its “sixth man” mentality, how the entire team is pulling in the right direction in practice and in games.

“It’s one team, one heartbeat around here,” he said.

The Panthers continue district play Friday when they host George Jenkins on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Osceola (13-4) went 2-2 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic in New Orleans during the holiday break. The Kowboys fell 49-47 to New Orleans Edna Karr, despite Josh Marte’s 16 points, including a late three-pointer to pull OHS within one. OHS then. fell in double overtime in the consolation final to Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) High, 93-92.

“We won by eight and two in two games to get to the semis, then lost by two and in overtime to some really tough teams,” Osceola Coach Nate Alexander said. “It was a good trip for us to get sharp for the stretch run we’ll have back home here.”

After taking last week off after all that travel and playing at Haines City Tuesday night in a 9A-7 test, the Kowboys return to the round to play in the Wally Keller Classic in Charlotte this week, taking on Miami Norland on Friday at 9 p.m. and Fort Lauderdale University, ranked third nationally by The National Prep Basketball Poll and 12th by Maxpreps, on Saturday at 6:30.

In girls action, Osceola, who played City of Life, a Class 2A program poised to make a deep playoff run, on Tuesday, and St. Cloud are on a collision course to meet for the Orange Belt Conference title on Feb. 2.

The Bulldogs (12-5) have recovered from a buzzer-beater loss to Celebration on Jan. 5 with big wins over Liberty (58-22), rival Harmony (58-33) last Thursday and Freedom (51-17) on Saturday.

“We shouldn’t have lost that game,” St. Cloud Coach Chad Ansbaugh said. “But it was a reminder that we have to do the little things right.”

The Kowgirls (11-3) defeated 9A-7 rival Haines City, 62-59, on Thursday, after the Hornets beat Osceola earlier in the season and in last year’s district championship game. Osceola needs wins against Harmony and Poinciana on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1 to set up the de facto OBC title game against St. Cloud on Feb. 2.

If the Bulldogs win that game, both teams along with Celebration, last year’s unbeaten OBC champ, would share the title with one loss.