By: Ally Doty
The Pensacola State College men’s basketball team headed to Ocala, FL on Monday, March 3 to compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association State Tournament for the first time since 1998, when they defeated Dayton State College 102-79, but lost their second game, being bumped out of the tournament and went home with empty hearts and empty hands.
This year, PSC battled Daytona State College again, for their second meeting in the 2013-2014 season, DSC defeated the Pirates, 66-63, at their first meeting in December 2013.
Coach Pete Pena and the Pirates looked forward to their second match-up after battling for a spot in the play-offs against rivals, Gulf Coast State College, in late Feb., winning 78-76 in overtime.
After five consecutive wins in their last five games, PSC fought hard in their match against DSC on March 5, 2014, having ten turnovers and being down by thirteen points in the first half.
The match resumed after a fifteen minute halftime and the Pirates began to slowly respond to the Falcons.
PSC could not close the scoring gap until there was ten minutes left in the second half and they came 6 points away from tying the game.
Tyrone Culbreth stole the ball with 6:06 left and scored two points, raising the score and raising the hopes of his coaches and the rest of his team.
Rozelle Nix scored two points and drew the foul that allowed him to score one more and put the pirates the closest they had been to the Falcons in the game.
With 39.9 seconds left, Denzel Richardson’s long pass to Leonard Livingston resulted in a slam dunk, two points and a restless bench that was squirming with excitement.
Time dwindled down to two seconds left and Kevin Baker was fouled at the arch and given two free throws. The world sat on his shoulders, but he made his first shot, putting his team in the lead for the first time in the game.
The Pirates went on to win their first state tournament match since 1998, 63-62, and will play again Friday at 1 p.m. against the winner of the St. Petersburg and Miami-Dade match that will being at 3 p.m. eastern on March 5, 2014.