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Chipola Wins Panhandle Conference Championship

By DUSTIN KENT  
Jackson County Floridan

February 27, 2007

 

 

In front of a sold out Milton H Johnson Health Center, the Chipola Indians put together a 29-4 run spanning both halves to jump out to a big lead and hold on to a 100-87 victory and an outright Panhandle Conference championship Saturday night against Tallahassee.

 

The win gave the Indians their fourth consecutive league title and makes them the No. 1 seed in the March 8-10 state tournament in Marianna. Chipola will play the runner-up from the Southern Conference on March 8.

 

"Getting this fourth championship is a real testament to our players and the work they have done throughout the year," Chipola coach Greg Heiar said after the game. "Anytime you can win a championship in a league that is as difficult as the Panhandle, it really means a lot."

 

Chipola won the title by beating their arch-rival for the second consecutive time, previously knocking off the Eagles 65-58 Feb. 6 in Tallahassee. After the Indians lost to Okaloosa-Walton Feb. 21, it set up Saturday's winner-take-all matchup. TCC beat Chipola in Marianna Jan. 20 in double overtime, but a superb second half shooting performance by the Indians prevented that from happening again. Chipola shot a whopping 60 percent from the field after halftime and got 44 points off the bench.

 

"(The shooting) was the difference in the game," Heiar said. "We spread the floor and started driving and kicking for open shots. We were able to spread the floor and take them off the dribble. And Eric Price, Skyler Williams, Mario Little and Victor Dubovitsky were all tremendous off the bench."

 

Early on, it didn't look like it was be such a triumphant night for the Indians, as TCC jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game, seven of those points scored by the Eagles' star guard Jermaine Dixon.

 

Chipola didn't get its first basket until Jamarcus Ellis scored with 14:04 on the first half clock. After the Indians cut the lead to three at 18-15, TCC went on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 11 with 7:25 on the clock.

 

A three-pointer by Andre McMillan put the Eagles up 37-28 with 2:58 left in the first half. By the time the Eagles next scored, with 17:49 on the clock in the second half, they were trailing by seven. A three-pointer by Dubovitsky, followed by a steal and basket by Little, a three-point play by Johnnie Harris and a pair of free throws by Ellis put Chipola up 39-37 at halftime. The Indians' momentum continued on to start the second half, an Ed Berrios three-pointer and baskets by Ellis and Harris pushing the Chipola advantage to 46-37. Berrios, who scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half, added another three-pointer, a jumper and a steal and layup to make it 55-41 Chipola with 15:35 on the clock. The Eagles were able to get to within single digits on a McMillan three-pointer with 2:30 to play to make it 87-79, but TCC was unable to get to within striking distance before being forced to foul.

 

"For it to come down to the last game with all the distractions of Homecoming and Sophomore Night...we came out like it affected us," Heiar said. "When we got focused on the game, we were fine."

 

Ellis scored 18 points for the Indians, while Dubovitsky added 17 and Little 14. Dixon led TCC with 25 points.   

 

 
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