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Gulf Coast opens with convincing win

By PAT McCANN
News Herald Executive Sports Editor

Posted Nov 7, 2017 at 10:11 PM

 

PANAMA CITY — The Gulf Coast men’s basketball team intended to open its season with a scrimmage and a full-fledged game late last week in Pensacola.

 

When those competitions didn’t materialize the Commodores were forced into a season and home debut without much of a dress rehearsal.

 

And against a Coastal Alabama-South (formerly Faulkner State) team that has solid expectations and opened with a victory last week.

 

It was no problem Tuesday night at the Billy Harrison Fieldhouse, however, as Gulf Coast built a 17-point lead with 3:30 still remaining in the first half and eased to an 84-62 victory.

 

The Commodores have their own expectations this season — for improved frontcourt play — but for one game the focus was more on the perimeter offset by slashing moves to the basket.

 

Quadree Smith, a 6-foot-8 sophomore post player from Temple Hills, Maryland, did contribute 12 points and 9 rebounds, and Will Robinson, a 6-5 freshman combo guard-forward led all scorers with 26 points, but most came on shots in the 15-foot range.

Freshman Myles McGregor counted four 3-pointers among 16 points and sophomore guard Tyree Gibson added 11 points.

At times the Commodores were most potent with freshman guard Daniel Kiely, a high school teammate of Robinson’s in Baltimore on the floor. He utilized his quickness to score all seven of his points less than seven minutes into the game and handed out half a dozen assists.

 

“For Daniel Kiely’s first college game he really played well,” Gulf Coast coach Jay Powell said. “I hope that can continue.”

Powell also praised McGregor, a freshman who redshirted at Presbyterian last season, but it’s probably going to be Robinson’s contribution that is going to be key throughout the winter.

 

“Will can score the ball,” Powell said. “He only had two rebounds at halftime, and he very easily could be a double-double type guy for us.”

 

Gulf Coast took control with a nine-point run that turned an early 9-6 deficit into a six-point lead when Smith hit one of two free throws. The Commodores grew the margin from that stage the rest of the first half.

 

Jordan Thomas scored on Gibson’s assist to make it 21-11 and Gibson had a rare four-point play when nailing a 3-pointer from the top of the key to open a 25-13 spread.

 

McGregor’s second 3 of the half got it to 35-20 and when Gibson scored on the break the Commodores led 39-22 with 3:38 before halftime.

 

The Sun Chiefs never got closer than 14 thereafter, and the lead stayed between 16 and 23 points after Smith scored on a putback for a 54-34 cushion with 18:08 remaining.

 

Crestview grad Rusty Moorer and Mike Green each had 16 points to pace the Sun Chiefs.

For a first game, Gulf Coast didn’t lack defensive intensity.

 

“We communicated and had active hands,” Powell said. “Their energy was better than anticipated. They competed.”

The Commodores also could be looking to expand the minutes of 6-8 sophomore Ben Eke Kazee and 6-11 freshman Oscar Okeke

in the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule.

 

“The biggest thing for Quadree is conditioning so he can play 30 minutes a game,” Powell said. “We need Ben and Oscar to give us minutes and I thought they played really nice defense inside.”

 

Gulf Coast plays on the road this weekend beginning with Atlanta Metro on Friday night.

 

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