Indians Streak to 23
The top-ranked Indians beat the Pensacola Pirates 66-57 Wednesday night in Pensacola for their 23rd straight win, with their leading scorer Mitchell suffering an ankle sprain early in the game.
Mitchell sprained the ankle early and tried to play through it, although he wasn’t effective and scored just 11 points before leaving with six minutes to play.
Trailing 52-47 with 6:08 on the clock, Chipola scored 19 of the next 21 points, with PJC adding a late 3-pointer for the final margin.
“We found a way to get another win,” Chipola coach Greg Heiar said. “Malcolm Armstead really stepped up and took over the game.”
Armstead scored scored nine points and dished out two assists during the decisive run, finishing with 13 points and 10 assists for the game.
Chipola led 29-25 at halftime, but the Indians found themselves in a dogfight down the stretch — which has happened a few times before during this Panhandle Conference season.
“This team has been in those situations before,” Heiar said. “I thought the guys really responded down the stretch. The bottom line is we started getting stops, playing team defense and taking good shots on the offensive end.
“It’s funny how this team is. When the game gets close or we get down, this team gets smart and more confident. We’ve been in tough situations game in and out, and we’re responding in those situations.”
Responding and performing even without Mitchell, who leads the Indians with 21 points per game, is even more impressive.
“It’s the first time we’ve had to play without him,” Heiar said. “It’s a great sign for us to play like that without him on the floor.”
Heiar said Mitchell is day-to-day, although he expected him to play Saturday night at home against Tallahassee.
The Indians coach said it was hard to keep Mitchell off the floor, even on Wednesday night.
“He’s just a warrior,” Heiar said. “He could hardly walk and he still wanted to go back in.”
Jeremy Jacob posted a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds, with Torye Pelham adding 12 points. The Indians clinched a berth in the state tournament with the win. Chipola can clinch at least a share of the conference title with a win Saturday night, or a Gulf Coast loss.
At 8-0, the Indians are off to their best conference start in Heiar’s tenure at Chipola.
“I think that just says a lot about this team,” the coach said. “The best thing about what’s going on is that teams are playing their best games against us and we’re still finding a way to win with some adversity, which is a good thing.”
The Indians tip-off with TCC Saturday at 7:30 p.m.