Crowd energizes Eagles for win over Chipola

Malachi Davis scores one of his free-throws for the TCC basketball team, finishing with 10 points in a 62-54 victory over Chipola College.
Photo by Andrae Ransom

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

Since the men’s basketball schedule was announced almost a year ago, the Tallahassee Community College players had an inkling about what would be at stake when they meet Chipola College.

When the Indians came to the EagleDome on TCC campus, they brought an undefeated 20-0 record. The Eagles came in looking to extend their 20-game win streak.

Oh, and first place in the Panhandle Conference was also on the line.

The standing-room-only crowd in the dome added to the electricity, with the Lofty Pursuit Marching Band in attendance. It was so much that coach Rick Cabrera had to remind his players not to get too excited.

“Feed off the energy of the crowd and just play basketball,” was what the second-year coach told the Eagles. “There is no exact science to this. You just got to play and showcase your talent and everything would take care of itself.”

Indeed they did and the Eagles got their 21th victory by snapping the Indians’ unbeaten streak with a 62-54 win. The Eagles improved to 4-0 in conference play and Chipola fell to 3-1.

The win streak goes back to November when TCC suffered a three-point loss to Southern Union State Community College. 

 This game also was their third that was televised on ESPN+, and the national audience was well entertained.

“I’m so excited,” Cabrera said. “These guys played their tails off. They played through adversity. They play hard, they play disciplined and it turned out on the right side.

“I didn’t score a basket today. These guys scored all the baskets and got all of the defensive stops.”

The team went into halftime tied at 24 after the Eagles played most of the first half without their leading scorer Addison Patterson, who was whistled twice in the first 10 minutes.

It was a jumper by Patterson that forced the halftime tie. That followed back-to-back three-pointers by Damoni Harrison and Tom Mark that kept the Eagles close enough to force the second tie of the half.

TCC managed to turn back every Chipola run with solid support from its bench, which scored 15 points on the night. Mark, a sophomore forward, took the lead when Cabrera kept Patterson on the bench until late in the first half.

As much fight as the Indians show, Mark said he had no doubt about the outcome.

“We do the same thing every day,” said Mark, who scored seven points and took down 12 rebounds. “We try to go hard, try to be disciplined. Just play together. Play hard on defense, get stops and the outcome is the win.”

Patterson was most impactful during the final five minutes of the game. He scored. He defended and when he made the first of two dunks with 4:19 left the arena became deafening.

“The basketball gods gave him the gift of his ability,” Cabrera said of Patterson. “He is just gifted. Addison gets us going but we’ve got other guys that get us going as well.”

Patterson pushed TCC’s lead to six with his final dunk that came with just over 1:08 left to play; again erupting the crowd.

Cabrera called the game the best that he’s been involved in as a coach.

“This is what college basketball is all about,” he said. “The atmosphere was unbelievable. The game was unbelievable. To me this was the Duke-North Carolina type game in regard to rivalry and two really good teams.”