PANAMA CITY, FL (WJHG/WECP) Wednesday marks another round of play for the teams in the Panhandle Conference, and once again, first place will be one the line in both the men's and women's standings.
Gulf Coast men's basketball coach Phil Gaffney recovering from serious medical issue.
On the ladies side, it's the two first place teams going head to head for the outright lead in the conference, with Northwest Florida playing at Chipola.
Both teams 6-3, with the Indians coming off a win at Tallahassee, the Lady Raiders getting a win on the home floor Saturday against Gulf Coast. That leaving the Commodores a game behind in third.
This just another example of how incredible the competition in this league is, nothing new in Chipola coach Greg Franklin's way of thinking.
"You talk about the Missouri Valley Conference as a coaches league." coach Franklin told me. "And then you talk about the SEC or the ACC as really good coaches, but they have the best athletes. We have the best coaches in the country in this league, and we have the best athletes. So you're talking about a ball bounces here, a bank shot there, it just changes the whole scope of what's going to happen nationally. I mean I don't know of any league that has that impact on junior college women's basketball."
As for the Lady Commodores, they are coming off the 74-69 loss in Niceville, but coach Roonie Scovel says that was an effort that left her with a particularly proud feeling, given her team was down to just 7 healthy players, with one even racing back from a family funeral to play last Saturday.
"So it was quite the challenge and we gave it all we could." coach Scovel told me after practice Tuesday. "I was really, really proud of our effort. And we came a lot closer than I thought we were going to. That morning at 7:30 we thought we might have to forfeit because we had two throwing up all night. So we had kids that were sick and had the flu, and had a funeral, and all the injuries. So at the end of the day you give it all you can and we did and we came up...we were pretty close."
As for the Gulf Coast men, we did get an update on head coach Phil Gaffney's status. The coach undergoing surgery Tuesday, before which he texted me to let me know he's hoping to recover and get back to his team perhaps in four weeks. If the Commodores, who going into Wednesday share the league lead with Tallahassee, are still playing in four weeks, that would mean they qualified for the State Tournament, or even had a berth at Nationals.
The games at Chipola and Gulf Coast Wednesday are 5:30 for the ladies, 7:30 for the men.