PANAMA CITY, FL (WJHG/WECP) The basketball teams of Northwest Florida, Chipola and Gulf Coast have hit the home stretch of the Panhandle season. And with one or two games left for the area teams, well some things have been decided, while many things have not.
Let's begin with the ladies. The Lady Raiders have already clinched a share of the title and a state berth. That thanks to their win over TCC last Saturday, taking their league record to 8-3.
As for the Lady Commodores and Lady Indians, their game Wednesday will go a long way in deciding who joins the Raiders at State. Going into that game Gulf Coast has a 6-4 league record, half a game better than 6-5 Chipola.
This will be their third and final meeting of the regular season. Each won on their home floor, Indians with a four point win in this game in January, Gulf Coast won by five on the first of February.
"You know if you got into coaching to play against the best, and try to be the best, than this is what it's all about." Gulf Coast head coach Roonie Scovel told me after her team's practice Tuesday. "So it will be fun, it will be a challenge. It's going to be quite the environment tomorrow night, I imagine, because our men need a win to solidify their opportunity at the state tournament. So Gulf Coast is going on the road for what I think is going to be two really tough games."
As for her team's health, well that remains a problem. Coach Scovel says given all the injuries, including season ending injuries to her squad, well she's pushed a lot of the right buttons keeping things together, but as she puts it, you can only push so many buttons!
"We've pushed a lot of buttons when you've gone down to basically, at one point we were down to 50 percent of our lineup. And even now we're five that absolutely can't come back. So we're down to nine bodies of which, I don't know, maybe one or two that are a hundred percent. So there's nagging things. And Chipola's kind of faced the same things, they've lost their big post player for a few games and there were some losses in there. So now it's just a battle of the wounded to see who can come out of this thing and advance."
As for the men, it's an easy equation for assistant coach Scott Jackson and his Commodores as they get set to face the Indians.
Chipola is eliminated from state tournament contention, but no doubt will try to play spoiler. The Commodores meanwhile 7-3, a game behind first place TCC. If the Eagles win at Pensacola Wednesday, and Gulf Coast wins at Chipola, those two would then play for the league title, with each guaranteed a state berth.
Simply competing for the title, given the adversity this team has faced, losing their head coach to a serious medical issue, and then losing their starting point guard KK Godwin because of recent arrest, is a remarkable feat for these Commodores.
"The team has faced numerous adversities." coach Jackson told me Tuesday. "Especially our sophomores, even back to last year with the hurricane. You know they were friends with Keshawn. (Johnson, a girl's player killed in a car accident last summer) And KK's situation right now, they have coach Gaffney obviously a big situation and they just keep pushing through. It's all about the mentality. And really I really like the mental state of our leaders are in right now.They're the ones leading and telling everybody to keep it positive, talking to them. Talking to the freshman. The freshman are becoming sophomores now so they understand how it goes. But they have to listen to somebody and they've been very good."
The women play at 5:30, the men tip off at 7:30. We'll have highlights and post game for you in our late news Wednesday.
Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.