It took 71/2 minutes but sophomore Mark Matthews was able to find the net for Fort Myers’ first field goal in the fourth quarter on a shooting foul.
With the Green Wave trailing 48-47 and 1:28 left on the clock, he stepped to the line for the tying free throw. He missed.
St. Petersburg Gibbs failed to score on its possession. Billy Graddy went for the game winning 3 on the ensuing possession, but missed the shot.
That’s when Matthews grabbed the long rebound, set his feet and drained the game winning 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to make it 50-48 Fort Myers. That was the final.
Matthews scored a game-high 17 points in a defensive battle in the final game of Saturday’s Southwest vs. Florida Challenge.
The Green Wave (13-3) trailed 24-18 at the half but went up 34-32 with less than three minutes remaining in the third. Gibbs (14-3) responded with a 9-0 run to close the third and take a 40-37 lead after heading into the final period.
The 48 points Gibbs scored marked the first time Fort Myers held an opponent under 50 this season.
“We had two bad offensive games in a row, but we played good defense tonight,” Fort Myers coach Scott Guttery said. “It’s a lesson to the guys. Obviously we have to work on offense again. It pays off when you can play defense.
“It was an ugly game, but we will take that win any day of the week.”
Gibbs’ Barry Brown scored a team-high 17 points for the Gladiators and Shaquielle Speights added 10 of his own.
The win gave Southwest Florida three wins, and Florida three wins.
Martin County 62, Verot 40
Martin County came out hot Saturday night, hitting six 3-pointers in the first quarter en route to a 62-40 victory over Bishop Verot.
Bishop Verot (10-7) couldn’t buy a basket in the first half for the second night in a row, falling behind by as many as 22 in the second quarter. The Vikings headed to the locker room with just 20 first-half points.
Mason Taylor and Mitchell Fundingsland combined for 28 points in the loss. Both scored eight points each in the first half but went a combined 3-for-8 in the final 16 minutes.
“I think our biggest problem is we have a couple of key guys worn out,” Verot coach Matt Herting said.
“We were very fatigued I thought. We got in that hole and once we got in the hole it was hard to keep any intensity.”
Verot cut the lead to 14 with less than two minutes remaining in the second, but Martin County closed the half on a 6-0 run. The last basket came off a Traevis Graham dunk to put the Tigers up 40-20 at the half.
Verot was outscored by just two points in the second half, 22-20, but with a 20-point deficit to was too much to overcome.
Martin County (16-2) used balanced scoring, with seven players posting points on the stat sheet. Graham, a junior, led the Tigers with 18 points.