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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jason Shay- Going to Nationals

From NWF Newspapter....

Raiders claim state title with win over Central Florida

MARIANNA – Prior to his first official practice as the coach at Northwest Florida State, Steve Forbes laid out three goals for his team for the coming season.
Win the Panhandle Conference, win the Region VIII Tournament and win a national title.
Following a one-sided 85-66 win over Central Florida in Saturday’s Region VIII championship game, Forbes and the Raiders are two-thirds of the way home.
Freshman guard Chris Jones led all scorers with 20 points on his way to being named the tournament’s MVP, and Rod Rucker finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds as the Raiders won their fifth state championship and earned the program’s fifth NJCAA national tournament berth.
After entering the tournament as the No. 1-ranked team in the FCSAA, the Raiders left little doubt that they are a team to be reckoned with once they arrive in Hutchison, Kan., site of the NJCAA tournament.
“Since about late-November, early-December, we’ve been one of the top-ranked teams in the country,” Forbes said. “We came (to Chipola) for the Panhandle Shootout and Palm Beach was ranked ahead of us and we beat them by 37 points.
“I think at that time that we really took notice that we were pretty good.”
On Saturday, it was everyone else inside the Milton Johnson Health Center that took notice.
Neiko Hunter, who along with Jones and Rucker was named an all-tournament selection, had 14 points and eight rebounds. Chad Donley, whose late first half 3-pointer was cited by Forbes as a turning point, finished with nine, as did Teraes Clemmons. Trency Jackson hit consecutive 3’s late to help the Raiders seal the win and ended his day with eight points.
 “It feels great,” Jones said. “We wanted to do it for our fans, so many of our fans came out.”
In front of a large contingent of Raiders fans, NWF State (29-1) once again struggled out of the gate, falling behind early as Central Florida hit its first three 3-pointers to build a 17-13 lead.
Central Florida’s touch from behind the arch would cool, though, as the Patriots finished the half a pedestrian 3-for-16.
NWF State, meanwhile, would chip away at the Patriots lead, taking its first lead of the game when Hunter hit both free throw attempts at the 7:08 mark.
From there, NWF State would begin to pull away.
The Raiders were nine-of-10 from the line in the half and when Clemmons hit his 3-pointer from the corner 52 seconds before the half, he gave NWF State a 32-24 lead at the break. NWF State held Central Florida to just 29 percent shooting from the field. Hunter Williams and Luis Jacobo led the Patriots (25-8) with 10 points as Central Florida struggled to handle the Raiders swarming defense, shooting just 39 percent for the game.
“We’ve been a great defensive team all year long,” Forbes said. “I think a lot of people get confused when they watch us play and think it’s about our offense. It’s not about our offense, it’s about our defense.
“We’re the best defensive team in this region, we’ve proven that night in and night out.”
Now, the Raiders will turn their attention towards the final item on their to-do list, winning the program’s second national title. NWF State won its first and only title in the 1994-95 season.
“When you come to Northwest Florida State, you have a chance to win three banners,” Forbes said. “… (now we) have a chance at three.”

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