By: Ally Doty
The Pensacola State College’s men’s basketball team began their season the first weekend of November, participating in the Men’s Basketball Tip-off Classic hosted by PSC at the Lou Ross Center on the PSC main campus. The tournament consisted of four teams: Lamar State Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Gulf Coast Community College and the Pensacola State Pirates.
PSC played Mississippi Gulf Coast on Friday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. and fought hard to please their coach and the crowd on their opening night, but they were unsuccessful.
The match began slow for both teams and seemed to drag on for the Pirates when they allowed two fouls and two turnovers in the first four minutes of the game; the first foul of the season by freshman from Pensacola, Shamar Johnson. MGCCC had the first four points of the game and the second foul by RaAnthony Sanders gave them a 5-4 lead early in the first. A frustrated Coach Pete Pena let his voice ring throughout the gymnasium. “Quit waiting and shoot the damn thing!” Pena yelled after a travel was called on sophomore Oskars Reinfelds. PSC remained behind in the first half until Denzel Richardson made a free throw with 2:39 left in the first and tied the game at 28. MGCCC fought harder and took the lead in the last 39 seconds ending the half at 30-29, MGCCC.
After a livening performance by the PSC dance team, the Pirates came out after halftime, hoping to make the match more even. “I thought we were ready to work after half-time,” Pena said. “But we obviously had more work to do.”
MGCCC pulled ahead by ten points in the first three minutes of the half, forcing Pena to take a timeout. They kept the lead, but PSC began to close the gap with eight minutes left and were soon down by only a point. It was 59-58, MGCCC, with 46.4 seconds left, but the Bulldogs hit a two-pointer and a free throw, expanding their lead by three. The Pirates fought hard, but not hard enough and MGCCC took the win at 64-60.
“We didn’t play well enough to win,” a disappointed Pena said after the game. “We aren’t mature enough and we aren’t strong enough yet. We have a lot of work to do if we want to be any good at all.”
Saturday night was a better atmosphere for the Pirates when they faced the Lamar State College Seahawks from Texas. After beating Gulf Coast the night before, LSC was going to be a tough opponent to beat. “Lamar State played well last night,” Pena said. “But we wanted it more tonight.”
The Pirates came out with great momentum in the first half of the game, but once their first two shots were blocked by LSC’s 7’1, Anthony Allen, they gave the Seahawks room to further their lead. PSC took a timeout at 7:04, LSC in the lead, 21-6. Coach Pena gave a few intense pointers to his team and the Pirates came back out on the court and took control of the game.
They closed the scoring gap to three points, infuriating the Seahawks coach, Lance Madison, and drawing a warning for his language from the referees. PSC stayed behind at the end of the first half, 35-32 LSC.
Five and a half minutes into the second, the Pirates took the lead for the first time in the game, causing chaos on the Seahawks line and bench. The game rallied back and forth until Pena called a timeout at 12:47, PSC in the lead by one point. After a quick break and a fast talk from the coaches, RaAnthony Sanders, from Hope Alabama, sank a slam dunk and the gap between PSC and LSC grew bigger and bigger.
The Seahawks became discouraged with their play after being ahead so far at the beginning and the coaches were abusing their power, not refraining from using profanity towards the referees.
Due to his bad language, technical foul was called on Coach Madison and Kevin Baker made the free throw that allowed PSC pull ahead even further 68-59.
It was an intense remaining five minutes as the game drew to an end and another slam dunk was made by Shamar Johnson, stimulating the crowd. The Pirates shot down the Seahawks 80-71.
6’11 freshman, Rozelle Nix from Cincinnati Ohio, had a huge impact on the game Saturday night. He had ten rebounds under the net and scored thirteen points in the second half.
“We fought hard to get back in the game,” Nix said after the victory. “Last night we didn’t play together and we didn’t play hard but we got back from the shooting round this morning and we played better and I think we will do better this season from here on out.”
Nix and his Pirates continued to play hard in the following week as well. With two more wins under their belt they are looking to have higher hopes this season than they did last season for a conference title.