Gulf Coast prepares to make trip to state tournament

The Gulf Coast women's basketball team is one of the four area teams preparing to head to Ocala next week to take a shot at a state championship, and a berth in the National Tournament.

Roonie Scovel and her Lady Commodores are the co-champs, along with Northwest Florida, of the Panhandle Conference. Both teams finishing 8-4 in league play, and earning the two conference bids to the Region, or State Tournament at the College of Central Florida.

It's an 8 team, double elimination tournament, that begins Wednesday. And that means a bit of a break between games. For the Lady Commodores, an 11 day break.

Though for coach Scovel, well this isn't her first rodeo, and she knows how to make use of this extra time.

"You know we practice, we shorten practice." coach Scovel told us Thursday, while her team was going through study hall. "Try to make them a little more intense but we shorten them. Just more intense mentally and physically. You know the drills, they don't last as long, but they're intense and fast and up tempo. So everything is an hour, and hour and fifteen. Get it all in, maybe a little faster, maybe not as many reps. Just high intensity."

Gulf Coast will face Daytona in their tourney opener Wednesday at 3 eastern in Ocala. Those same two opened the season against each other in Niceville with Gulf Coast winning 70-51. Knowing something about Daytona though won't mean all that much the coach told us.

"It definitely is different for both teams. Both teams, I think, are much better, more seasoned. Of course you have played many more games both played what 20-22 more games since that time. So definitely different. But at the same time it's tournament time. Both qualified. You know both on a mission to advance to the second round. So I think it will be a tough game. Gulf Coast is gonna have to go and play well."

And as for working to prepare for any of the other teams that will be at State, well coach Scovel says, there's not much reason for that.

"None past the first one. Because if you don't win the first one you've wasted your time on the next round. So everything will be into the first round. More than anything, we focus on us. We have to worry about the things we can't do, or don't do well, we've got to fix those. And then the things that we do, we've got to make sure that we continue to do those well."

In all it will be ten days off between games for the Commodores, who are gunning for a fourth consecutive title and 14th overall.

The Lady Raiders hoping for their first title under coach Bart Walker and their 5th overall and first since 1996. Northwest will open up Wednesday at 6 eastern against Miami Dade, those two did not meet in the regular season.

As for the men, Northwest Florida and Chipola play their State openers in Ocala Thursday.