Gulf Coast Women’s Basketball All Set for State Tournament

Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 9:26 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Gulf Coast preparing for its State Tournament, that starts Wednesday at the Arena in Niceville. The Commodores set to open up against Florida Southwestern. Coach Kuhn and his squad finishing the regular season at 24-3 and 9-3 in Panhandle Conference play. Two of their three losses though coming to Northwest Florida, which at 11-1 won the conference title. That second loss coming last Saturday.

Between that game and Wednesday’s opener, well a week and a half of rest and practice. And time for some game planning.

“It’s just fine tuning the stuff that we’ve already done. Obviously, something worked, since we were 24-3 in the regular season. Most of the teams in the State Tournament we’ve seen already, played against. But just fine tuning our stuff. For us the biggest thing, which it’s been all year is staying healthy. So finally, we’ve got nine players, our starting center Aryelle (Stevens) is back, which is nice. We worked her in last game, just for a little bit, just to get some minutes under her belt so she’s ready for the State Tournament. Yeah, just stay healthy and just get better at the things we’re good at”, Coach Kuhn said.

Kuhn also said it helps that there are some players with some experience in all of this.

“We have girls that have been here before, the three returners Imani (Smith) Ciante (Downs) and Abbey (Cracknell). You know they know what it takes. Jaliyah (McCain) has stepped up as a freshman and been really good. And now we get Aryelle (Stevens) back and our other pieces. So, the leadership part from the returners is there. And it’s just a matter of, at this time I would just say hey the sophomores aren’t sophomores anymore. They’re juniors. And the freshmen are not freshman, they are sophomores. You know the year’s ending so you’re moving on. So, you’ve got to show some growth and they’ve been doing that. So, we’ve got the leadership part, but we’ve just got to take care of the 40 minutes when we get to March 8, we just got to take care of that. "

And though that second loss to the Raiders was a tough one, as they lost out on a chance to be Panhandle Champions, Kuhn says it was a good experience for his girls.

“While we were good, we just weren’t quite good enough that day but it was a good game overall. But it’s good experience, like I told them that’s going to be a tournament type game and that’s what it is. And it’s arguably, and you know some people are saying that could be like a national championship game, I said yeah, that’s really what it is. At this point in the year, you are who you are, like, you know who you are. How much are you going to improve in this little late stage, you kind of are who you are it’s just get to the game, lets play this thing and lets roll.”

Gulf Coast is the three seed, their opener Wednesday at 3. The Raiders are the two seed, they take on 7 seed Chipola in their game Wednesday at one.