Chipola Impresses Paris Coach In Victory
March 22, 2008
By Gene Schinzel (The Hutchinson News)
Chipola, Fla. took home the seventh-place trophy from the
NJCAA Tournament, but Paris, Texas, coach Ross Hodge was
convinced the Indians should have been awarded a different
"They're the best team in the country. They may not win the national championship, but they're the best team in the country," Hodge said after his team played the Indians in Saturday's seventh-place game.
"Chipola was everyone's favorite coming into the tournament. If they could have gotten through that first game against Seward, they probably would have won every game by double figures."
Chipola played its best game of the tournament Friday in a win over Itawamba, Miss. Saturday's performance was nearly as good as the Indians broke away from the Dragons in the second half for an 84-66 win.
"I thought we got better with every game we were out here," said Chipola coach Greg Heiar, whose team ends its season with a 35-2, setting a single-season school record for wins. "I'm just really proud of these kids and how they performed and the character they showed."
The Indians trailed throughout the first 12 minutes and held only a 31-29 lead with less than two minutes left in the first half.
But sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers by Wichita State signee Clevin Hannah, Chipola extended its lead to 39-31 at halftime and got its transition game going in the second half.
"I thought they started to hit some hits and we got a little impatient on the offensive end," Hodge said. "They convert and they make you pay for your mistakes better than anyone in the country. You turn the ball over to them and it's a layup on the other end."
Paris paid for its mistakes midway through the second half when Chipola got the separation it needed from the Dragons.
Leading 51-43 with 12 minutes left, Chipola's Antwon Hall hit a 3-pointer. Malik Alvin followed with a layup after a steal; Casey Mitchell scored on a layup after a blocked shot - Chipola had seven for the game - on the other end and then Vernon Teel made a layup after a steal.
That gave Chipola a 60-43 lead at the 10:10 mark. Paris couldn't get closer than 14 the rest of the way. Chipola shot 54 percent from the field, including 66 percent in the second half.
"We took the shots we were supposed to take instead of rushing our shots like we had been," said Flowers, who was 5 of 6 from the field in the second half and finished with 14 points.
Flowers and University of Kansas signee Mario Little each had big second halves. Little scored 18 of his game-high 21 points after halftime.
"Anytime Little and Flowers get it going, we're not going to get beat. And they had it going today," Heiar said. "Today, I felt like we finally hit our rhythm as a team. We shoot 50 percent for the season, and today we got rhythm shots and they were being aggressive."
Eric Tramiel had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Paris, which also set a school record for wins this season with 30. But with Chipola hitting on all cylinders in the second half, Hodge knew No. 31 would be tough to get.
"It wasn't a case of us not knowing if we could win - we knew we could beat them. But we knew we would have to play a close to perfect game, and we just didn't play that way today," Hodge said.