PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Gulf Coast Lady Commodores are back home this weekend, a rare occasion during the first part of the 2018-2019 season.
Friday and Saturday, Billy Harrison Fieldhouse is the site for the Visit Panama City Beach Classic, featuring just the second home game Gulf Coast has played all season.
The team ranks tenth in the nation with a 7-1 record, but a less active schedule, lost practices, and facilities challenges caused by Hurricane Michael have the Lady 'Dores playing catch up before Panhandle play.
"When you step backwards for a month, you don't just step into Panhandle play with a month out and say oh, we've caught up," head coach Roonie Scovel admits. "I don't know that we'll ever catch up. But we're gonna go do the best we can. We're gonna work hard every day to get people to do the things that we need them to do to compete in the Panhandle."
Gulf Coast is always in the conversation for national championship contention. Their ranking alone proves they still are, although three other conference foes join them in the top 10 (Northwest Florida, Tallahassee, and Chipola).
As a result of the storm and its aftermath, perspectives have been altered somewhat.
"You know, if we're good enough, great. If we're not, we're gonna keep working to get people ready, whether ready for next year or for moving on to go help whoever they play for next year."
Action begins Friday at five as Georgia Highlands squares off against Chattahoochee Valley at 5 p.m. Gulf Coast plays Georgia Highlands at noon Saturday.
Playing on the home floor is something that means even more to the Commodores this year.
"I thought our GC Strong event was very good. A lot of people here, usually at that time of year in the fall season you don't get that many at a game. Hopefully they enjoyed the entertainment, the play. We were excited. This community has always embraced us, but I would have to say now, I think it's time for us to embrace the community."