Chipola men capture state tournament spot

MARIANNA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Chipola men's basketball team would like to win Saturday at Gulf Coast.

They'd like to win every game.

Entering the season finale at Gulf Coast with a 25-4 record, they've come close in that regard. Regardless of what happens Saturday afternoon, their spot in the state tournament is secured.

Northwest Florida is the Panhandle Conference champion. Chipola is second, beating Pensacola 87-82 on Wednesday night to eliminate Tallahassee from contention.

The conference crown continues to elude the Indians, with the Raiders claiming five straight. While that would be nice too, it's not what's most important.

"Normally we set three goals: to win the conference championship, state championship, and national championship. But we're in a situation where we can go to state and hopefully have some success there, first year head coach Brendan Foley said.

"When Coach Campbell stepped away, getting the job kind of late, bringing one guy back and starting from scratch, obviously our goals were set high but securing one of the two spots in the Panhandle is not an easy thing to do."

The Indians are ranked 11th in the nation, in the mix for state and national championships. Once the tournaments begin in March, they should be well prepared.

"We play in the toughest region. We play in the toughest conference in the country," Foley said. "I'm hoping we get rewarded for the league we play in, the region we play in, but we need to help ourselves."

If the Indians falter early in Ocala, they could still earn an at large bid to the nation tournament. That's not the preferred way.

"Our goal is to win a state championship. Hopefully we won't have to worry about that."

The preferred way is to win every game.