JUO Basketball

Basketball and Net
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Northwest Florida state punched its ticket to nationals with a 68-50 win over Tallahassee community college in the region 8 championship game.

Forward Toby Veal said, "They beat us twice so I think we really owed them that one, and so we came out like we were supposed to and played really hard."

The Raiders have been a roll this season, despite starting the year under the radar.

Head Coach Bruce Stewart said, "We only brought one player back from last year, Brian Bryant, and we were pretty much an unknown team...we came into it with a chip on our shoulder and with something to prove, and I feel like our guys have done that."

Guard Brian Bryant added, "They didn't know what we had and everybody counted us out and we proved everybody wrong."

Coach Stewart believes the tough scheduled they've played has his team prepared for a run at a National title. "You know in the conference tournament we beat the two teams that were supposed to be the best teams in the state of Florida in Central Florida and Tallahassee... so I think all that competition combined gives us an opportunity to do well in the national tournament."

The Raiders will rely heavily on Panhandle Conference player of the year Brian Bryant to lead them to four wins and just their second ever National Title. "You start at the top. We have a great leader, who's also a great player at this level in Brian Bryant...its been a team effort despite the fact that Bryan has reaped alot of awards we've had good balance in a lot of games," added Stewart.

Coach Stewart preaching his "Three H" method heading into the National Tourney. "We've got to stay healthy, we've got to stay humble, and we've got to stay hungry, and if we do that we've got a pretty good chance in each game," said Stewart.

The Raiders take a 28-3 record to Kansas, they play Southeastern Community College at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

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