Eagles finish season as best in Panhandle Conference

Special to the Outlook

It’s been almost two decades since the Tallahassee Community College men’s basketball team finished the regular season with 25 wins and achieving that this year wasn’t an easy feat.

Case in point – their last two games of the season. After enduring a tough 73-65 victory over Pensacola State College in their home finale, the Eagles went three over time periods with Gulf Coast State College before falling on a buzzer-beater in a 108-107 loss.

 Maurice Gordon hit the winner at the buzzer from just inside half court to beat to secure the win. 

DeAndre Gholston scored on a baseline drive with 1.7 seconds left in the third overtime to score TCC’s final points in Saturday’s loss to the Commodores.

Despite the loss, TCC captured the Panhandle Conference championship by virtue of its win over Pensacola. That left TCC with 25-5, 9-3 in league play despite falling last Saturday night to Gulf Coast State, which finished one game back of the Eagles at 8-4 in conference play. 

Both teams locked up berths to state junior college tournament, with TCC being the No. 1 seed. TCC has not won a conference title outright since the 2001 season. That year the Eagles advanced to the national championship game that season.

Tallahassee will open postseason play in the juco state championship tournament at 7 p.m. on March 4 against the No. 2 seed from the Suncoast Conference. The Commodores will take on Florida Southwestern in the first round of games.

“For us to hang a banner, we can walk into the Eagledome forever and know the coaching staff and team played a huge part in that,” said Tallahassee head coach Zach Settembre, following the mid-week title-clinching win. “This is something our campus and city should celebrate because it’s been a while.”  

In Saturday’s game, both teams caught fire in the final overtime, and the Eagles appeared poised to finally get the win when DeAndre Gholston scored on a baseline drive with 1.7 seconds left to give Tallahassee a 107-105 lead. But after a timeout, the Commodores found Gordon who took two dribbles and let the game-winner fly just before the buzzer. 

Tallahassee led 67-49 with eight minutes left in regulation only to see Gulf Coast State rally to force the first overtime tied at 80. The Commodores had the final shot of the first overtime but Cam Holden misfired and the extra period ended in a 90-90 tie. 

Tallahassee missed an opportunity to possibly put the game away in a low-scoring second overtime. Leading by two, the Eagles caught a break when the Commodores’ Travon Mayo missed two free throws with 54.4 second left. Gholston, however, missed two of his own on the ensuing possession for Tallahassee and Gulf Coast State took advantage, tying the game at 94 with 4.5 seconds left.