GC holds off Vincennes

By Pat McCannThe News Herald

Nov 11, 2016

PANAMA CITY — Assessing the hierarchy of college basketball in November is like planting trees in your backyard and trying to guess which one will grow the tallest.


A lot of it depends on whether you’re starting out with redwoods as compared to apple trees. In that regard, just say that Gulf Coast and Vincennes both have a chance to reach for the sky this season in junior college women’s basketball.


The No. 1 Lady Commodores and No. 21 Trailblazers, who combined for 61 victories last season and a national championship by host Gulf Coast, put their potential on display Friday evening in the Billy Harrison Field House. Gulf Coast’s 79-71 triumph was, well, just call it a November win.


“Coach Scovel needs to take the hit on this one,” Gulf Coast coach Roonie Scovel said. “I’ve got to do a lot better job coaching them. Too many missed layups. Missed blockouts. Our defense didn’t wow me at all.”


Not one to get overly excited during the nonconference portion of the schedule, Scovel was downright nonchalant about her program’s 13th consecutive win dating to last winter.


She can see the many pieces that need to fall into place if the Lady Commodores can even approach last year’s success. Especially with a pair of outstanding post players now in Division I basketball and two major contributors in the backcourt out with injuries, Amanda Paschal for the season.


“(Maria Castro) is our only returning starter if you look at it that way and they’ve all got a huge target on their back,” Scovel said.

And some are being asked to transition from role players to featured performers.


All that said, Gulf Coast found a way to push aside a rather lukewarm performance through 25 minutes and overcame a 50-41 deficit midway through the third quarter. Laurhen Pickett’s putback with 4 minutes, 34 seconds left in the third quarter opened the biggest lead of the game for Vincennes at that point.


A 19-4 run sparked by Castro and sophomore transfer Taylor Emory got the Lady Commodores back on top and they headed into the fourth quarter ahead 60-56. Their third straight victory of the season, and 13th consecutive overall wasn’t assured, however, until Ty Purifoy found LaSonja Edwards alone underneath for a 73-68 edge with 22 seconds left.


Purifoy connected on six straight free throws from that stage to ice the win, the final representing the Lady Commodores’ largest lead.

Castro had 20 points and was Gulf Coast’s leading rebounder by a large margin, final statistics unavailable following the game. Emory had a game-high 25 points, Edwards 13 and Purifoy 10.


Jeanier Olukemi had 18 points to pace the Trailblazers, 3-1, despite been plagued by cramps much of the second half. Pickett had 17 points for Vincennes, which led 37-34 at halftime thanks to netting 13 of 16 free throws.


Olukemi went to the sideline with 1:44 remaining in the fourth quarter with Vincennes in possession and trailing 70-66.


“That’s a lot to take off the floor for us,” Vincennes coach Harry Meeks said. “I told our girls they (Gulf Coast) were going to come hard after them and they did.”


Vincennes will play Florida Southwestern 5 p.m. today in the Health Center. Gulf Coast will entertain Florida Southwestern 11 a.m. Sunday.

Vincennes (71)


Olukemi 8 2-3 18, Roth 0 2-2 2, Matias 3 1-2 7, Maggett 3 3-4 9, Pickett 6 5-8 17, Mallett 2 3-4 7, Conner 2 1-2 5, Johnson 2 2-2 6. Totals: 26 19-27 71.


Gulf Coast (79)

Green 0 0-0 0, Purifoy 2 6-6 10, Emery 11 2-3 25, O’Neal 1 0-0 2, Bennett 1 2-2 4, Castro 7 3-4 20, Dunlap 11-1 3, Edwards 6 1-1 13, Diagne 0 2-2 2. Totals: 29 17-19 79.


Vincennes;17 20 19 15 — 71

Gulf Coast;19 15 26 19 — 79

3-point goals: Vincennes 0, Gulf Coast 4 (Castro 3, Emory). Total fouls: Vincennes 20, Gulf Coast 21. Fouled out: none.


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