NWF State men top Tally, improve to 4-0 in Panhandle

NWF State men top Tally, improve to 4-0 in Panhandle

By SETH STRINGER

Kayne Henry was plagued by foul trouble Wednesday night en route to a quiet stat line in Tallahassee.

Yet, summing up NWF State's depth well, his lone basket proved clutch in a 75-71 win over the 12th-ranked Eagles.

The play in question came with the score knotted at 68 with 90 seconds to play. Hamlet missed a pair of free throws, but Henry crashed the boards, gathered the offensive rebound and finished at the rim for the 70-68 lead. The Raiders later sealed the conference win at the charity stripe – first on a pair of free throws by Morgan and then two by Hamlet.

That's four wins down, eight to go in Panhandle Conference play for the sixth-ranked Raiders (18-2, 4-0), who lead 10th-ranked Chipola (19-2, 2-1) by 1 ½ games, Tallahassee (17-3, 1-2) and Pensacola State (13-7, 1-2) by 2 ½ games and Gulf Coast State (12-8, 3-0) by 3 ½ games.

The Raiders were led Wednesday night by Chris Duarte's 25 points, followed by a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double by Eric Vila.

Morgan had 13 points, Hamlet delivered nine points and seven assists and Niceville High alumnus Trey Diggs came through with eight points and six rebounds off the bench.

With the game featuring 15 lead changes, NWF State trailed by as many as 11 early on. But Duarte scored ten points during a 12-0 run that gave Northwest Florida State its first lead of the game, 19-18, at the 11:43 mark. The Raiders led 36-32 at halftime and neither team led by more than six points over the final 30+ minutes.

It was the first conference win decided by single digits for NWF State, which had previously beaten Pensacola State by 15 points, Gulf Coast State by 13 and Chipola by 11.

Up next the Raiders travel to Pensacola State Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. rematch. Tallahassee next travels to Pensacola State Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. tip.