Gulf Coast's ready to open conference play at home

PANAMA CITY, Fla (WJHG/WECP) - It's a big week for junior college basketball.

One half of the season down, one half to go.

Conference play tips off this weekend for four of the five teams.

One of those four, the Gulf Coast men's team which will host 25th nationally ranked Tallahassee Saturday night.

The 'dores are off to a solid start. Offensively, they're clicking. Will Robinson ranks fifth in the state with 18.7 points per game.

Providence transfer Quadree Smith has proven to be one of the state's best rebounders, hauling in over eight per contest.

As a team, they're riding a three game winning streak, and it seems as though the 'dores are trending up heading into this 12 game conference stretch.

"As I look back on the grand scheme of the first half of the season, 14-3 is a great record to have," Jay Powell, Gulf Coast men's basketball coach said. "I feel like we've played good basketball in our last three games. The men have competed at a high level, so that's all encouraging."

Once again, the conference is strong top to bottom.

Northwest Florida is the nation's unanimous number one, undefeated in 14 games.

Pensacola and Chipola enter with 11 wins, as does number 25 Tallahassee.

Coach Powell working to make sure his players know the level of play from here on out, has to jump up a level or two.

"When we get into Panhandle Conference play, all five teams are so good," Powell said. "As I look out on the rosters and I've started watching film, last week I was actually able to watch each team live--none of us forgot to go recruit last spring and summer, so each team has a lot of talent. Each team plays hard and plays pretty good basketball for the junior college level."

Game time Saturday's at 5:30 for the women, 7:30 for the men.

Chipola gets the bye Saturday, they start conference play a week from Monday. The Raiders play at Pensacola to open league play Saturday.