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GC teams face big tests in Niceville

By News Herald Staff | Twitter: @The_News_Herald

Published: Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 12:04AM

 

NICEVILLE -With just five Panhandle Conference games left to play, each remaining outing for the Gulf Coast men’s and women’s basketball teams is significant in each club’s postseason hopes.

Perhaps the most challenging of the final five contests for each team comes Wednesday, as the Lady Commodores take on No. 4 Northwest Florida State, and the GC men face the top-ranked team in the country in the unbeaten Raiders.

The Raiders (23-0 overall, 7-0 in the conference) can wrap up at least a share of the league championship with a win over the Commodores (17-7, 4-3). Gulf Coast needs a win to stay in sole possession of second place in the standings.

Gulf Coast is on a three-game winning streak after knocking off Chipola 70-53, Tallahassee 76-66, and Pensacola State 64-58. The latter victory elevated the Commodores to sole possession of second for the first time this season.

The Pirates (15-10, 4-4) are idle this week and came move back into a tie for second with a Gulf Coast loss.

Northwest Florida is coming off of a 91-71 win over Chipola on Saturday in a game that was tied at halftime. The Raiders blew it open with a 50-30 second half.

Benji Bell and Jalen Jackson each scored 21 points to lead the Raiders, with Bell continuing to make his case for Panhandle player of the year by averaging 19.6 points, 5.4 assists, and 2.6 steals on 51.2 percent shooting from the field. He’s connecting at 50 percent from the 3-point line in Panhandle games.

The Lady Commodores (16-6, 3-4) will try to draw even with TCC (19-7, 4-4) in the race for the third state tournament spot from the Panhandle, as the Lady Eagles fell to No. 3 Chipola 63-48 Tuesday night.

Northwest Florida ’s women (20-2, 5-2) had a five-game winning streak snapped Saturday in Marianna when Chipola took a 64-62 victory to move into sole possession of first place at 6-1.

Gulf Coast notched its second straight lopsided win Saturday, blowing out Pensacola St ate 76-49 after routing TCC 74-54 earlier in the week.

After the Lady Eagles’ loss Tuesday, the Lady Commodores would move into a tie for third place in the Panhandle. The two teams play once more on Feb. 14 in Tallahassee .

The Lady Commodores very nearly pulled off an upset of NWFS in the first meeting on Jan. 14 in Panama City . A last-second tip-in by Tyshara Fleming sent the game into overtime where the Lady Raiders eventually hung on to win 96-92.

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