Gulf Coast prepares for trip to the 24 team National Tournament in Texas

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:50 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -Coach Rory Kuhn and his squad, the runner up in the Panhandle Conference this season, wound up 24-4 overall after bowing out in the quarterfinals of the State tourney last week in Niceville. Fortunately for Gulf Coast, the selection committee for the 24 team National Tournament in Lubbock, Texas, chose the Commodores as one of the best 8 teams in the country that did not get an automatic bid. The Commodores did have to sweat that selection out Sunday night, they were the second to last team to hear their names called. Safe to say though this wasn’t charity, Gulf Coast earned that bid!

”I’ve said all along that we play in the best conference in the country.” coach Kuhn told me during the team’s practice this week. “We were the number one team in the country at one point. Minus all the injuries, being down to seven people, sometimes eight people, depending. You know we’re the only team that has beaten the current number one team in the country. We beat Northwest Florida who was in the top five or six all year. So yeah, I’d say we definitely earned this one.”

And getting this bid after being denied one last season perhaps makes this time around more special.

”You know obviously it’s a good thing.” Kuhn says. “I told them, the ladies, we’re one of 24 teams that are still playing. There’s a lot of teams in the country and we’re one of 24. And you know obviously if you had told me this year would be the year, with all the injuries, losing my best player, my most athletic player, starting center, all conference. And then my leading scorer, with concussions missed missed four games. To be playing in the National Tournament as one of the best teams in the country, I’d say it’s a good thing going forward. So hopefully we can continue to build off that. We’ll have a good core coming back next year. So just keep building but focus on this right now.”

Coach says the plan is to work out a few more times at home, then bus it west starting Sunday with some stops along the way to practice.

“The good part is this school, they’ve been there before, they know logistically, traveling a little bit yeah kind of a little bit of help there.” Kuhn says of dealing with all the planning while also working to prepare the team. He adds having coached at Northwest for some of its trips to Nationals helps in terms of his experience. “I’m taking my experience from Hutch. (Mens Tournament) Like I said I talked to (Northwest Florida) Coach (Steve) DeMeo earlier today. You know he’s going to the national tournament. I have the experience, he has the experience. So there’s always people to lean on. But as I tell them when we’re in the locker room, there’s only 11 of us. It’s us, so it’s all up to us. So we rely on each other and just get out there and do what we can do.”

Gulf Coast’s opener at Nationals comes Wednesday against Three Rivers.