Panama City, FL-- Friday was travel day for four area teams as they head to their respective national tournaments.
The Northwest Florida men's team is going to Hutchinson, Kansas for their tourney.
Northwest, Gulf Coast and Chipola are all heading towards Salina Kansas for theirs.
The Northwest teams, and the Lady Commodores all busing it to Kansas, so they'll all split the trip with stops in between northwest Florida and Kansas.
Chipola, meanwhile busing to Atlanta then hopping on a flight to Wichita, and busing the final hour into Salina, so a bit of an advantage for them.
They open up play Monday, the other three teams all play Tuesday, so the extra day of travel not too big of a deal.
Again, the Panhandle Conference represented by three teams in Salina, thanks to the NJCAA expanding that event from 16 to 24, with four at-large teams making it. Two of those four, Northwest Florida and Chipola, displaying the dominance of the Panhandle Conference, as Coach Greg Franklin tells us,
"It's the toughest conference in the country. Some of the best coaches, best athletes, players, basketball minds. In women's basketball period. It speaks volumes for the level of play that goes on here in the Panhandle."
Something Gulf Coast Coach, Vernette Skeete, echoes while praising the determination of Franklin's team,
"How great is it that Chipola gets to go to the national tournament. That kid, their number 12 Jade Givens who was battling and fighting for her team, over an achilles tendon. And she still out there playing. And even though they didn't win, they still get to celebrate their season and their toughness. And so now it solidifies the strength of our conference, that three teams out of our conference get to go and get to enjoy what it feels like."