Chipola bench and fans celebrate the Indians' 62-60 win over Miami-Dade in the opening round of the 2023 FCSAA/Region VIII Tournament in Niceville. | photo courtesy of Liz Kasey
Chipola bench and fans celebrate the Indians' 62-60 win over Miami-Dade in the opening round of the 2023 FCSAA/Region VIII Tournament in Niceville. | photo courtesy of Liz Kasey

NICEVILLE, Fla. – The Sharks were circling the Chipola men's basketball team on Thursday night in the first round of the FSCAA/Region VIII Tournament looking to take out the two-time defending state champion.

Sophomores Jatarion Warren, Cliff Davis, and Deyton Albury scored a combined 38 points in the second half to lead the Indians to a 62-60 come from behind victory over Miami-Dade and a berth in the semifinals.

After nearly two weeks removed from playing their last game, the Indians were out of sorts in the first half and didn't have any answers for the Shark's hot shooting. Miami-Dade was 12-for-27 from the floor in the first half but shot 7-of-15 from three-point range (46.7%) to lead by as many as 17 in the first half.

Trailing 35-20 with 20 minutes to play, Chipola came out of the locker room and began to chip away at the Sharks' lead. An 8-3 run to start the half cut the deficit to ten and it began to look Chipola was poised to make one of its patented early second half comebacks.

The Sharks answered with a 7-2 run of their own to push their lead back out to 45-30 with 13 minutes left on the clock.

Three consecutive shots from the corner in front of the Chipola bench by Warren followed by three more consecutive shots in the lane from Albury ignited the Chipola offense with eight minutes left to play.

Following a flurry of turnovers and missed shots by both teams, Davis made a pair of shots from beyond the arc to wrap up an 18-4 run by the Indians and cut the Miami-Dade lead to 52-51 with 3:44 remaining.

Miami-Dade's Jamichael Stillwell, who led all scorers with 20 points, gave the Sharks a 56-53 lead with 2:30 remaining on a drive to the basket but Cliff Davis answered with another triple to tie the game for the first time since early in the first half.

With 1:20 remaining in the game, Warren made a pair of free throws after being fouled going to the basket, to give the Indians a 58-56 lead.

After another Stillwell bucket allowed Miami-Dade to tie the game with under one minute left to play, Davis missed a shot from behind the arc but the ball went out of bounds under the Chipola goal off a Miami-Dade player.

Following a timeout, Warren took the inbounds pass and slipped by the Sharks' defense to go up 60-58.

Again, Stillwell answered with fifteen seconds remaining to tie the score, but Albury dribbled the length of the floor and laid it in to give the Indians back the lead with 4.2 seconds remaining.

Finally, the Sharks failed to answer as their shot at the buzzer came up just short and bounced away giving the Indians their 28th win of the season and their spot in the semifinals.

Chipola (28-3) will take on Northwest Florida at 8 PM on Friday night for the right to advance to the State Championship game. The Raiders held on to defeat Indian River in their first-round game, 106-105.

Game Notes

  • The trio of Warren, Davis, and Albury, Chipola's three members of the All-Panhandle Conference first team, combined to score 38 of the Indians' 42 second-half points.
  • After Miami-Dade shot a blistering 46.7% from three-point range in the first half, Chipola held the Sharks to just 4-of-14 in the second half.
  • The Indians are 28-0 this season when scoring 55 points or more.
  • The Panhandle Conference has three teams in the semifinals. Prior to Friday night's Chipola-Northwest Florida game, Tallahassee will take on the #7 seed Eastern Florida State College at 6 PM.
  • Chipola is 2-1 against the Raiders this season with each team winning games on their home floor. Chipola defeated the Raiders, 78-72, in last year's FCSAA/Region VIII semifinals.
  • Under Coach Donnie Tyndall, Chipola is now 10-2 inside Raider Arena, including 7-0 in state tournament games. The only losses have been to Northwest Florida.