Playing for Gaffney: Gulf Coast advances in state tournament and team says every win is for coach

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NICEVILLE, Fla. (WMBB) – The Gulf Coast Commodores took down the No. 1 team in the nation, Florida Southwestern, to advance to the semifinals in the FCSAA State Tournament.

The Commodores beat the Buccaneers 75-68 on Wednesday night.

“We’ve always been the underdogs and so we want to play the No. 1 team and show them why we think we’re No. 1,” Gulf Coast sophomore guard Maurice Gordon said.

The team wasn’t shocked with the win as they believe they had good preparation for the tough matchup.

“I did think that us being in the Panhandle and going through the Panhandle season prepares us for stuff like this because it’s such a hard conference and the fact that we’ve had to grind out the last few games almost like a playoff situation prepared us for today, ” Gulf Coast interim head coach Scott Jackson said.

However, the Commodores had one more thing motivating them to win that the Buccaneers did not have. The Gulf Coast players wanted to win for head coach Phil Gaffney, who had a heart attack in January and had to temporarily step down from coaching the team. If the Commodores can get to the national tournament, Gaffney might be back coaching the team once again.

“Yeah that’s been the motivation for all of our games since we lost Coach Gaffney,” Gordon said. “I’m glad we won but we’ve got another game, so we’re trying to get to the state championship and get to Hutch so Coach Gaffney can come back.”

Cam Holden led the team with 15 points and five rebounds. Maurice Gordon and Jacolbey Owens added 11 points each. In this one though, it was less about the offense and more about their defense.

“The main thing obviously is the press. The press, when we have so many different options in it, it really confuses teams. And they don’t understand if you don’t face it all the time it is wearing and taxing on them,” Jackson said.

The Commodores get ready to take on the No. 3 team in the state, the College of Central Florida, on Friday.

“The main thing I keep thinking in my head is keep everything the same as Coach Gaffney would have it and have our guys play in the moment and relax when they need to,” Jackson said. “That’s been successful and it’s feels absolutely fantastic right now. Absolutely fantastic. ”

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