Chipola goes for four straight in Pensacola
Feb 01, 2013 (Jackson County Floridan - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The No. 9 Chipola Indians picked up their biggest win of the season last weekend over Northwest Florida State and they'll try to keep that momentum going forward when they head west to face Pensacola State on Saturday night.
The 82-79 win over the Raiders, which featured a late 15-2 Chipola run after falling behind 69-61, was the third in a row for the Indians, who have climbed back to within a game of first-place Northwest in the Panhandle Conference standings after starting out 1-2.
But at 4-2 in the league, the Indians are still chasing the 6-1 Raiders, and games like Saturday's are essential to win if Chipola is to make a run at a Panhandle title.
If that's not motivation enough, the Indians need only look back to the first meeting with Pensacola State on Jan. 15 in Marianna, which the Pirates won 45-42 to send the Indians to a 1-2 league record.
But Chipola coach Patrick Blake said his team has larger concerns than getting payback.
"We're definitely excited, but more than just focusing on revenge, it's about trying to keep on improving every game as we have with our last three performances. I still feel like we've got to get a lot better defensively and get more stops to take that next step and play a complete game."
Defense wasn't as much the issue in the first game against the Pirates, which featured 24 percent shooting for the Indians, who also had 14 turnovers to just six assists.
But the Indians have since changed up their style of play, employing a full-court press and playing at a faster tempo that has worked to Chipola's strengths of quickness and depth.
Blake said it's imperative that his team continue to push the pace Saturday and not have a repeat of the first meeting's half-court slugfest.
"The one thing I took from the last game was that I had to do a better job of imposing our identity on teams and not allowing a team to dictate how we play," the first-year coach said. "We're going to go into a very tough environment (Saturday) and try to speed them up, get them to turn the ball over and take tough shots. We need to get out in the open floor and get the game how we like to play."
The Pirates haven't much success since beating the Indians, dropping two in a row, including a 99-64 loss to the Raiders on Wednesday, to fall to 2-4 in the conference.
That makes Saturday's game a must-win for the Pirates, who were similarly desperate for a victory when they came into Chipola after an 0-2 start in the league.
"It's kind of the same situation as last time for them when they came in 0-2 and needing a win," Blake said of the Pirates. "Their backs are against the wall. They did a great job of coming in and taking the game away from us last time. This is a similar situation. They're very well-coached and very tough and determined. We'll get their best effort. They're not going to lie down. They're going to do everything they can to get this win."
The game will tip at 7:30 p.m. following the women's game at 5:30 p.m.
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