Lady Commodores fighting through injury to stay alive for state

By Dustin Kent
With just three Panhandle Conference games left on the schedule, Gulf Coast enters the home stretch of the season on the outside looking in for a berth in the state tournament.

It’s an unfamiliar position for the No. 8 Lady Commodores (18-4 overall, 5-4 in the conference), though perhaps it shouldn’t be terribly stunning either given the injury issues they’ve had this season.

Gulf Coast is riding a two-game losing streak going into Wednesday’s crucial home matchup with Pensacola State, falling to Tallahassee 52-42 a week ago and to No. 5 Northwest Florida State 74-69 on Saturday.

Sophomore shooting guard and top scorer Ahlana Smith suffered an injury nine minutes into the loss to TCC, did not play vs. Northwest, and is questionable to play Wednesday, according to Gulf Coast coach Roonie Scovel.

Freshman point guard Ra’Shara Simmons also missed Saturday’s game vs. Northwest with a concussion and will again be out Wednesday.

All of this in addition to two season-ending injuries to key rotation players Laila Grant and Nadia Marshall earlier in the season, as well as lingering ankle and hamstring injuries that starting power forward Tatiana Jones and starting point guard Lya Farcy continue to play through, has put the Lady Commodores at their most vulnerable in recent memory.

“I guess it’s just one of those years,” Scovel said Monday. “I’m fortunate because there have probably been other coaches this has happened to not just once but two or three times. We’ve had such bad luck this year, but I don’t think it would be fair for coach Scovel to say her career has had very much bad luck.

“We’ve had some misfortune this year with injuries, but if everybody has to take their turn with that, then I guess it’s our turn.”

Things got so bad Saturday as several of her players were fighting a stomach virus that Scovel said she was worried she wouldn’t have enough available players and might have to forfeit the game.

Despite the situation, the Lady Commodores actually led by a point at halftime and rallied from a double digit deficit in the fourth quarter before ultimately falling 74-69.

“I thought we played extremely well for the challenge we faced on Saturday,” Scovel said. “I have a lot of admiration for those (players) with what they were going through to go out and play that game and fight that hard. It wasn’t a 20-point blowout and I really thought it could’ve been the case.”

The loss dropped the Lady Commodores back to third place in the league standings, one game behind Chipola and Northwest, both of whom are 6-3 in the Panhandle.

Those two play each other Wednesday, which means that if Gulf Coast can beat Pensacola State it will be tied with the loser of that contest for second place.

With still one game left against Chipola, it might be in the best interests of the Lady Commodores for Northwest to win on Wednesday.

However, Scovel said that she and her players aren’t in any position at the moment to worry too much about what happens in any other games.

“You could look at it all kinds of different ways,” she said. “But we won’t have to worry about any of it if we can’t give a good fight on Wednesday, so why even express what I want? What I want is some healthy bodies. That would be the biggest wish right now.”


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