Mayor Welch celebrates Gibbs basketball champs

Gibbs High School boys’ basketball team was honored at city hall for their March 3 state championship victory. 


ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Ken Welch honored the Jonathan C. Gibbs High School boys’ basketball team for taking home the state title at the March 21 city council meeting. Gibbs defeated Andrew Jackson 49-43 in the class 4A state championship on March 3 at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

The boys’ basketball team had not won a title since 1969, when Coach Freddie Dyles reigned over the Gladiator Nation. Dyles, known as the winningest coach in Gibbs’ history, was honored posthumously in 2020 when the school board renamed Gibbs’ gym in his honor.

Under Coach Freddie Dyles, Gibbs became the first all-black high school to leave the Florida Interscholastic Athletic Association in 1967 to join the Florida High School Activities Association. Coach Dyles led Gibbs to FHSAA state crowns in ’67 (Class 2A) and ’69 (1A).

“The Gladiator Nation is fired up,” said Mayor Welch. “We received calls from day one: ‘Are you going to recognize Gibbs?’ Yes, we have to wait until the council meeting. We’re going to do it!”

Welch commended the young men — none of whom are seniors — and said he expects a repeat next year. In fact, O’Neal Delancy is a freshman — a freshman on the varsity team!

“You are in the spotlight because of your ability, because of what you’ve achieved, and I know your coaches have told you about what’s required of you in terms of what you do going forward. So, we’re all supporting you; we all know you’re going to do great things.”

Council Chair Deborah Figgs-Sanders called each champion and coach up to receive a certificate, and longtime head Coach Larry Murphy received an official key to the city. City Administrator Rob Gerdes attended high school with Murphy and called him a fantastic point guard, a quiet leader and an unselfish player.

“And he was an unselfish person too, and he was always so kind to everyone. Larry, I couldn’t be happier for you and what you’ve accomplished and for your team. Congratulations,” Gerdes declared.

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