OCALA, Fla. (WTVY) — The Chipola Lady Indians (27-4) fell to the Gulf Coast Lady Commodores 80-72 in the Championship game of the FCSAA State Tournament, March 11, in Ocala.
Chipola was led by Sydnee McDonald with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. Barbara Johnson had 14. Raven Baker-Northcross and Tiaera Phillips each had 12.
The Lady Indians led 36-34 at the half, but free throws turned out to be an important difference as Chipola was 11 for 17 from the line compared to Gulf Coast at 20 of 24. The teams were an even 16 apiece in turnovers. Gulf Coast shot 44 percent from the floor compared to Chipola’s 37 percent.
Despite the loss, Chipola will advance to the NJCAA National Tournament in Lubbock, Texas, on an at-large bid. The Lady Indians were among 8 at-large selections in the 24 team tournament which runs March 20-25. Information about the tournament is available at http://njcaa.org/sports/wbkb/2016-17/div1/national_championship/index. Chipola’s seeding and first opponent in the tournament will be announced Monday, March 13, at 3:30 p.m. CST.
The Lady Indians advanced to the state title game with a 67-47 win over Santa Fe in the semi-finals on March 10. Baker-Northcross led Chipola with 21 points. McDonald and Johnson each scored 15 points.
In the first round on March 8, Chipola defeated Florida Southwestern, 66-36. Danielle Garven and Barbara Johnson led Chipola with 16 points apiece. Garven also had 12 rebounds. Tierra Phillips scored 14 points and Baker-Northcross added 12.
Chipola finished as the runner-up in the Panhandle Conference behind champion Gulf Coast. The final Conference records are: Gulf Coast (10-2), Chipola (9-3), Tallahassee is (7-5), Pensacola (3-9) and Northwest (1-11).
The Lady Indians are averaging 78.5 points per game and allowing opponents only 55.4 points per contest. Chipola’s offense is led by Sydnee McDonald, who is averaging 14.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Raven Baker-Northcross is averaging 14.5 ppg. Danielle Garven is averaging 14.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Barbara Johnson has 11.8 points and 3.0 assists per game. Tierra Phillips is averaging 10.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
Chipola is fifth in the NJCAA National Poll. Gulf Coast is third. Odessa is number one, followed by Hutchinson in second.
The Lady Indians are coming off a 23-5 season in 2015-16 which ended in the semi-finals of the state tournament with a loss to Northwest Florida State. Head Coach Greg Franklin led the Lady Indians to the National Championship in 2015, and was named NJCAA, FCSAA, and Panhandle Coach of the Year. The 2014-15 Lady Indians (34-1) captured the college’s first ever national title with a 54-46 win over previously unbeaten Hutchinson (36-1).