PANAMA CITY, FL (WJHG/WECP) Three area juco teams are working this week to prepare for their respective National Tournaments, two of them on the women's side of things. And one of those two teams is Gulf Coast.
The Lady Commodores back on the floor Tuesday for the first time since winning the State Championship over the weekend, beating Conference rival Northwest Florida by 4 Saturday night, 67-63.
That a fourth straight State Championship! It's the first time this already storied juco program has won four state championships in a row, something Gulf Coast head coach Roonie Scovel has certainly talked about with her team!
"It's a great accomplishment for the 2019 class." Scovel told me Tuesday after practice "You know we kind of talked about that a couple of months ago. 'What is your legacy going to be as a sophomore class?' We looked at the State Tournament and realized that's something we've never done at Gulf Coast. You know I don't know if we just challenged them or brought it up that it was something that they could do that a team had never done. And they did it. So the 2019 class can say they've done something no other Gulf Coast team has ever done."
Gulf Coast heads to the National Tournament in Lubbock, Texas as the overall number one seed. That gives them a first round bye, and as Scovel puts it, not much else!
"That's probably about it. Because the next look is Walters State and they're there all the time. Or Myles who is undefeated, shoot the lights out with threes. So to say your reward for being number two is to play a team that is, possibly play a team that is undefeated and hitting more threes than anybody in the country, I'm not sure that's a great reward. But we're at the National Tournament!"
This Gulf Coast team had to deal with the death of a teammate just before the season began. Then had to deal with the hurricane and its aftermath, with no place of their own to practice, often traveling an hour each way to get work in. And somehow, it made it through all of that to be co-champs of the Conference, and win a State Championship.
Given all that, I asked Scovel if that makes this group just a little more special to her and her staff?
"Of course this journey will definitely go down in the history books as one of the most adverse. And it was really filled with tragedy and devestation with the storm. And their resiliency. So to make it more special, that's hard to say because every team is special to us. But the journey is a unique and special journey."
The Commodores will bus it west starting Friday morning, with their first game at Nationals Tuesday.