SHARKS 60 BUCCANEERS 50

HOLIDAY – Anclote separated itself from Gulf in the third quarter Tuesday night and retained its one-game lead in the Class 6A District 8 standings.

The Sharks put three players in double figures during the 60-50 victory. Anclote took the lead for good when Jalen Cooper dropped a corner 3 off a baseline feed from Jakob Hester with 3:30 left in the second quarter that put the home team up 21-20.

Cooper led all scorers Tuesday with 20 points, followed by Jacobie Forrest’s 19 and 10 from Hester. Gulf’s Jacob Zio scored 12 of his 18 in the first half and Evan Sims added 12.

The win improves Anclote to 12-3 overall and 10-1 in league play, one game ahead of Wesley Chapel. The Wildcats kept pace by beating third-place Zephyrhills 66-54 Tuesday.

Anclote and Wesley Chapel will play their second district game of the season Friday night in Holiday. The Sharks blew the Wildcats out in the first meeting in Wesley Chapel on Jan. 8, 65-45. A win by Anclote would almost certainly guarantee the top seed come district tournament time Feb. 11-15 at Hudson High.

Anclote and Gulf opened the game playing an up-tempo style. The Buccaneers led 20-18 in the second quarter before Cooper’s aforementioned 3-pointer, and despite watching the Sharks go on a 9-0 run late in the period, trailed by just five at the break.

Hester, the Sharks’ leading scorer, didn’t register a bucket in the opening half, but his two third-quarter 3s came at the perfect moments.

The first basket of the second half was a Sims 3-pointer to cut Anclote’s lead to 29-27. Hester answered seconds later at the other end with a 3 of his own.

Gulf looked regain momentum later in the quarter with back-to-back scores, punctuated by a fast-break dunk by Zio. Now within six points, 37-31, Hester answered again with a 3 from the left wing.

Anclote was never threatened again the rest of the way.

Gulf, placed fourth in the district standings, played Anclote tough in their first meeting, as well, losing 59-52 on Dec. 4. Tuesday was the first of three challenging matchups for the Bucs. They’ll host non-district foe Land O’ Lakes (16-2) on Thursday and head to Zephyrhills Friday.

Anclote also plays Thursday and Friday, hosting a non-district game against Springstead before traveling to Wesley Chapel.

BOX SCORE:

GHS – 16 – 8 – 9 – 17 --- 50

AHS – 16 – 13 – 15 – 16 --- 60

TOP PERFORMERS:

Gulf (10-7, 7-4)

Jacob Zio – 18 points

Evan Sims – 12 points, 5 rebounds

Josh Vail – 7 points, 6 rebounds

Anclote (12-3, 10-1)

Jalen Cooper – Game-High 20 points, 5 rebounds

Jacobie Forrest – 19 points (7-8 FTs)

Jakob Hester – 10 points, 11 rebounds (4 offensive)