Gulf Coast men take 4th straight Panhandle win

By Dusting Kent
PANAMA CITY — Gulf Coast lost its point guard to a broken hand and its head coach to a heart attack, yet nothing seems to be able to stop the Commodores’ climb to the top of the Panhandle Conference standings.

Playing in their second straight game since head coach Phil Gaffney suffered a heart attack, the Commodores notched their fourth consecutive conference league victory by knocking off Northwest Florida State 86-65 on Saturday at the Billy Harrison Field House.

With the win, Gulf Coast solidified its place atop the Panhandle at 5-1 and 18-4 overall. The Raiders fell to 0-6 in the league and 12-10 for the season.

Assistant coach Scott Jackson, who is filling in for Gaffney until he can return to the sideline, said he couldn’t be more impressed with how his players have responded to adversity over the past few weeks.

“It shows the heart this team has, I think,” he said. “The one thing we keep talking about is the four (sophomores) that returned. They are stepping up and leading.”

One of those sophomores, 6-foot-5 forward Cam Holden, continued his torrid scoring pace in Panhandle play with 26 points to go with 12 rebounds and three assists.

Jacolbey Owens added 16 points and five assists, while Davonta Cook, starting his fourth consecutive game in place of the injured KK Godwin, had 13 points, nine rebounds, and four assists while committing just one turnover.

“We don’t have KK, but Davonta Cook is really stepping up and running with his opportunity at point guard,” Jackson said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do in these types of situations.”

Gulf Coast jumped out to a big early lead, with 3-pointers by Holden, Kaylein Marzette, Cook, and Travon Mayo staking the Commodores to a 21-7 advantage with 11:12 on the first half clock.

A three-point play by Owens on a baseline out of bounds play expanded the lead to 32-16 with 6:43 on the clock, but the Raiders stormed back to outscore GC 23-9 to close out the half.
Indrek Sunelik’s three from the right corner trimmed the Gulf Coast lead to 41-39 at the break.

Gulf Coast started to pull away early in the second half, with a 3-pointer by Maurice Gordon and a tough driving finish by Holden pushing the margin back to double digits at 53-43.

Cook helped spark a 9-2 run with a corner three and a fastbreak layup, followed by a dunk from Holden and free throws by Holden and Derrick Hardin to go up 69-53 with 7:55 remaining.

A putback by Seth Millner briefly got the Raiders back to within single digits at 71-62, but Gulf Coast answered with nine straight points starting with a short jumper by Deion Butler and ending with a left corner three by Cook to make it 80-62 with 2:36 to play.

Millner led Northwest with 16 points and eight rebounds, with Shakwon Barrett adding 13 points and Marseilles Caston 11 points.

Gulf Coast will return to action on Saturday at home against Chipola. Northwest Florida State next plays Wednesday at Tallahassee.


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