Header

Commodores embracing adversity as Chipola showdown looms

By Dustin Kent
Following Saturday’s 21-point home win over Northwest Florida State - the No. 17 Commodores’ second game since head coach Phil Gaffney suffered a heart attack - acting GC head coach Scott Jackson expressed hope that Gaffney could rejoin the team a week later when Chipola comes to the Billy Harrison Field House for a key Panhandle Conference showdown.

A week later, Gaffney still won’t be on the sideline as the Commodores begin the second half of their league schedule, and while Gaffney is still communicating with the team, it remains up in the air when he’ll be able to rejoin the team in his full capacity as coach.

That leaves a cloud of uncertainty having over Gulf Coast’s season, though to this point the Commodores have seemed rather unbothered but whatever adversity comes their way.

The experience of the team’s four returning sophomores - Cam Holden, Jacolbey Owens, Maurice Gordon, and KK Godwin - has been no small part in that, according to Jackson.

“I will say this, the four returners obviously went through a whole bunch of adversity last year with the hurricane, with a new coaching change. There was plenty of adversity last year during the season and after the season,” Jackson said. “Those four guys have been our leaders. They’ve been through some stuff, been through adversity and having practices in a bunch of places and having to drive 40 minutes to get to practice (after the hurricane).

“They’ve been through some stuff and handled it well. The freshmen have been listening to them and adjusted and adapted. Mentally we’re in a really good place now.”

The Commodores should be feeling good as they sit atop the Panhandle Conference standings at 5-1, a full game ahead of Tallahassee (4-2) and two games up in the loss column on Chipola (4-3).

This in spite of not just losing Gaffney but also being without starting point guard and second-leading scorer KK Godwin, who has missed the last five Panhandle games with a broken wrist.

Holden said the team is using the absence of both Gaffney and Godwin as motivation and inspiration to continue winning.

“That just put a bigger chip on our shoulder,” he said. “We want to win for those guys. Those two guys bring it every day, so losing them two guys we know we have to pick up the slack. That’s what we’ve been trying to do.”

Gulf Coast is currently riding a four-game Panhandle Conference winning streak that started with a 76-68 road win over Chipola on Jan. 15.

The Indians have not lost since, however, beating Northwest Florida State, Tallahassee, and Pensacola State to jump right back into the thick of the conference race after a 1-3 start.

Another Chipola win would jumble the league standings even more and put the Indians just a game out of first, while a Gulf Coast win would put the Commodores three games clear of Chipola in the loss column and in a strong position to get one of the two playoff spots from the Panhandle.

“It’s a huge game for both teams,” Jackson said. “It’s always kind of a rivalry game anyway, but I can’t remember the last time a Gulf Coast-Chipola game has meant so much at this point in the season.

“Obviously we’ve not had a fantastic record over the last few years, so for us to be able to distance ourselves from some of the other teams in the conference, it’s pretty big. Chipola is on a winning streak trying to fight back to get into second place. This game is gonna be very huge and I expect a pretty big crowd and a lot of excitement.”

Holden said the players are embracing the opportunity, especially the sophomores after experiencing a last-place finish in the conference as freshmen.

“In the locker room we’re always saying ‘worst to first, worst to first,’” he said. “We took a lot of punches and bruises to get to where we’re at right now. We realize what it’s gonna take (to win the league). You just have to have that mindset that you’ve got to go out and be the hardest team to play every night.

“Our home crowd has really helped us this year, too. They’ve been unbelievable helping us and cheering for us. We’ve got too many people behind us to let them down. We’ll give it our all every chance we get.”

 

NJCAA
FCSAA
GCSC
Gulf Coast State College Athletics | 5230 West Highway 98 | Panama City, FL | 850.769.1551
©2019 | Privacy Policy | Webmaster