Panhandle hoops teams head home for the holidays

Christmas is only one week away.

Although pro sports play on, that means the NJCAA basketball season grinds to a halt. Chipola, Gulf Coast, and Northwest Florida enter a much needed holiday break before beginning the Panhandle Conference schedule at the turn of the new year.

For the 16th ranked Lady Indians, the break comes just as the team was beginning to pick up steam.

"We had a stretch there where we won five games in a row by 30 or more, and a couple of games by 40 or more and we had everybody healthy," head coach Greg Franklin said. "When we get everybody healthy and we can play and we can actually get some confidence rolling with this young group, they're going to spike themselves up to be a pretty tough out."

As for Gulf Coast, the top ranked Lady Commodores enter the break with an undefeated record. That record may be in jeopardy soon.

First up after the break is a matchup against Shelton State, the nation's second ranked team. The following day, Gulf Coast matches up with seventh ranked South Georgia Tech. Both games are on the road in Georgia. Once 2018 rolls around, Gulf Coast will run the gauntlet of Panahndle play.

One challenge is out of the way in time for the holidays though: no more final exams.

"They handled that pretty well," head coach Roonie Scovel said. "It appears we might have had over a three-point-something GPA...still waiting on a few grades. Academically, we did well. I think they're just excited. They're excited to go home. I'm excited for them to go home. Coach Scovel is excited to have a break. So hopefully we'll come back and kind of have a renewed sense of energy and excitement and we've done well, so maybe we can keep this thing going."

The first meeting between Gulf Coast and Chipola is scheduled for January 20th in Marianna.