Raiders Get Set to Defend State Title

Niceville, FL---Among the five area teams looking ahead to next week's juco state/regional tournament at Chipola is the men's team of Northwest Florida.

Coach Forbes and his Raiders team 25-2 overall, 11-1 in Panhandle play.

A rather impressive follow up to last year's team which won the conference and state titles, and made it all the way to the national championship game.

"With only one player returning," says coach Forbes "obviously a great player in Chris Jones, from a year ago, you know Shakeem Jackson returned, but didn't play a lot, and that was it. You know we had to retool the whole team. We did a good job in recruiting and these kids came together and played well. To go through the whole season and be 11-1 in the Panhandle Conference is a great accomplishment for this group."

Because the Raiders had a bye the final regular season weekend, well that means it will be two weeks between their last game and their state quarterfinal. And that's a bit of a hurdle for Forbes and company.

"Basketball is a timing game and a rhythm game and you want to be playing. And how do you emulate that, it's tough. Where we are, we have an advantage because we do have some really good players, and have a lot of competition in practice. We have 11 guys and two guys sitting out so we have 13 guys and practice has been really intense. We've pushed them really hard this week."

The Raiders open play at state against Palm Beach, one of the two teams to beat them this season, that game Thursday at 3. Chipola plays the 6 o'clock game that night.