Indians sneak by Raiders
January 19, 2007
Jamarcus Ellis scored 26 points and helped rally the Chipola Indians from seven points down with 3:30 to play to notch a key road victory Wednesday night over Panhandle Conference foe Okaloosa-Walton.
The Indians, ranked No. 1 in the country, picked up their 20th victory in as many games, though this one was probably the most difficult to obtain.
The Raiders came into the game ranked No. 6 in the country at 16-2 and gave Chipola all it could handle for the first 36 and a half minutes of the game.
But that's when Ellis, the 6-foot-6-inch star swingman, took control of the game, either scoring or assisting on a basket on eight of Chipola's final 11 possessions. The future Indiana Hoosier added eight rebounds and 10 assists to his game-high 24 points.
"Jamarcus Ellis just took over the game," Chipola coach Greg Heiar said. "He was unbelievable. He just willed us to win."
It was a gutty performance by a team that had won its previous 19 games by nearly 19 points per contest.
"We showed a lot of toughness and leadership to come back on the road against a legitimate top 10 team like OW," Heiar said. "OW played well. This was, by far, our best win of the season. I'm real proud of our kids."
Victor Dubovitsky added 14 points for Chipola, while DeAndre Thomas and Johnnie Harris scored 10 each. Indians point guard Ed Barrios had nine points and eight assists to only one turnover.
Tay Waller led Okaloosa-Walton with 24 points.
The Lady Indians weren't as fortunate as the Indians Tuesday night, losing to OW 62-55 to drop to 14-5 on the season.
Both squads will next play host to Tallahassee Saturday at the Milton H. Johnson Health Center, the Lady Indians starting things off at 5:30 p.m. and the men tipping off at 7:30 p.m.
For the Indians, Saturday will be their first chance to avenge their heartbreaking, triple-overtime loss to the Eagles in the state title game last season.
The game was an all-time classic. The result, however, left the returning Chipola players anxious for payback.
"We're really looking forward to this game," Heiar said. "I don't think the revenge factor is going to affect our play in a negative way, but rather in a positive way."
The Indians and Eagles have had several classic confrontations in recent years, with the state title game being the ultimate climax of the two schools' rivalry.
Heiar said that the Chipola/TCC matchup has all the ingredients of other great rivalries.
"I think it's built on location, with us being 45 minutes apart, the fact that they have really good players and we have really good players, the fact that they have a good staff and we have a good staff and the fact that they have good tradition and we've got more tradition than anyone in the state," the coach said.
"There have been some really great games between us that have really hyped up the rivalry. I think it's great for the conference and great for the people in those communities. It should be a great game Saturday night."