NWFSC, Former Raiders Prepare for Postseason Basketball

Seven former Raiders will join NWFSC's Mens and Womens Basketball in the postseason this year.

March Madness has arrived – and Northwest Florida State College players and former players have postseason dates with Destiny this year. 

Let’s check out the schedule for the current Men’s and Women’s Raiders on the court this year in Niceville, and then we’ll see what past players have made it to the Big Dance this postseason. 

Seven former Raiders, five men and two women, have already received tickets to their respective regionals.

The earliest two former teammates could play one another in a tournament game will take place on March 23 if both #11 Oregon’s Brennan Rigsby and #14 Akron’s Shammah Scott win their first games. 

The earliest Last-Tear Poa could get a rematch against Sakima Walker, and the South Carolina Gamecocks is in the Women’s Tournament Final on April 7. 

NWFSC Lady Raiders

The Northwest Florida State College Lady Raiders dominated the competition in the Region VIII tournament they hosted this past weekend. Originally seeded number two for the tournament, behind Gulf Coast State College – they proved the better team and will sit as the #3 overall seed in this year’s tournament in Casper, Wyoming. The tournament takes place from March 26 – April 1. 

You can watch the Women’s tournament games here.  

Typically, the NJCAA Women’s Tournament takes place in Lubbock, Texas, but this year, it’ll happen in Casper, Wyoming. That may cause headaches in the first game of the tournament if the hometown teamโ€”#14 Casper College’s T-Birdsโ€”wins against #19 Blinn College out of Texas. The ladies’ performance in the regional tournament means they get a bye through the first round. 

Two other teams from the Raiders’ conference, Gulf Coast State College and Eastern Florida State College – both teams the Raiders beat to win the conference tournament – will also play in the national tournament. Gulf Coast State has the #5 seed and will get a bye out of the first round. #10 Eastern Florida will play The North Dakota State College of Science in the first round. 

NWFSC Raiders Mens Team

The Raiders’ Men’s Basketball Team survived a Region VIII Championship defeat to get a chance at redemption in the national tournament in Hutchison, Kansas, from March 24 to March 30. 

The #8 seed Raiders will get a bye out of the first round of the tournament and play either #9 Cowley (Kansas) or the lowest seed in the tournament, #24 Allegany Maryland, in the second round. 

Chipola, the Region VIII tournament winner, has the #6 seed and is on the other side of the bracket. 

Former Raiders in the Big Dance

Sakima Walker | #1 South Carolina

Sakima Walker helped last year’s Raiders win a national title. The 6’5″ center transferred in from Rutgers University and proved an offensive juggernaut against all comers in the tournament. 

South Carolina is rated the best team in the country and boasts six wins over the top 25 teams. 

This year, Walker has averaged a little under eight minutes per game as a senior for the undefeated Gamecocks. She averages two points a game and shoots 51% from the field. 

Walker backs up Kamilla Cardoso, a 6’7″ Center from Montes Claros Brazil. Cardoso almost averages a double-double every game. 

The Gamecocks will play either Sacred Heart or Presbyterian in their first tournament game on March 22 at 1 PM Central time. South Carolina defeated Presbyterian in non-conference play at home 99-29 earlier this year. 

Last-Tear Poa | #3 LSU

The only other Raider who will play in the NCAA Women’s Tournament this year is Last-Tear Poa of LSU. The 5’11” Australian Guard played for the Raiders in the 2021-2022 season. 

Poa plays on the SEC Runner-up Tiger squad, which lost to Sakima Walker and South Carolina this past weekend. But Poa was not able to play in the game, as she suffered a concussion severe enough to send her to the hospital. Sports Illustrated reports Poa will not play in the tournament opener against #14 Rice on March 22 at 3 PM. 

During her time at NWFSC with the Lady Raiders, Poa’s 43.5% three-point shooting percentage was the best in Region VIII and the 20th-best in the NJCAA. 

While at NWFSC, Poa was the 2021 National Champion, 2021 NJCAA tournament MVP, 2021 FCSAA Region Eight all-tournament team, 2020-2021 All-Panhandle Conference team, and a World Exposure Report All-American (Third Team).  

Brennan Rigsby | #11 Oregon 

Northwest Florida Raiders fans were treated to a return of the NJCAA Championship Team’s MVP when Brennan Rigsby returned to Raider Arena for the Emerald Coast Classic in November. The Ducks didn’t look great in the tournament, losing to both Alabama and Santa Clara, but the team has since rebounded to a 23-11 record and a Pac-12 Championship win. 

The Ducks will have a tough test early as the #11 seed when they play #6 South Carolina on March 21 at 3:00 PM. 

Rigsby will have an outsized role in the Ducks’ fate. He has played in all of Oregon’s 34 games this year and averaged 22 and a half minutes as a platoon player. He averages 6.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. 

Shammah Scott | #14 Akron 

Brennan Rigsby’s fellow guard on the NWFSC team, who won it all, will also have a chance to run on the court when Shammah Scott’s Akron Zips play the Creighton Blue Jays on March 21 at 12:30 PM. 

The Zips won the MAC Tournament in a 62-61 game against in-state rivals Kent St., which guaranteed them a spot in the tournament. 

The 6’2″ Cleveland, Ohio native plays about 18 minutes per game. 

Kam Woods | #11 NC State

Despite a losing record in ACC Conference play, the North Carolina State Wolfpack are an 11-seed in the national tournament. That means former Raider Guard Kam Woods will play on March 21 at 8:40 Central time. 

Woods has played in about a third of the Wolfpacks’ games this year, averaging a little over seven minutes per gameโ€”fewer as the team headed into the conference and postseason schedules. His best showing of the year was a 2-5 effort with nine points against the 12th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers at the Hall of Fame Series in San Antonio last December. 

NC State must beat #6 Texas Tech to advance through the first round. 

Fallou Diagne | #15 Western Kentucky

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers like to recruit from Northwest Florida State College – their scouts were at the Region VIII tournament over the weekend. However, their recruitment of Fallou Diagne has not worked out as some might have hoped. The Senegalesian Forward played on the last NWF team to not make the NJCAA tournament in 2020-21. 

Diagne has only played in two games for the Hilltoppers this year. I could not find any news about injuries for him – but his last game was in a 73-70 win over Christian Brothers University in Memphis on December 19, 2023. 

Chad Baker-Mazara | #4 Auburn

Widely-feted Guard for last year’s Raider squad that lost the national championship game by three, Chad Baker-Mazara, looks to impact the NCAA tournament this year. 

Baker-Mazara helped Auburn put a punishing on the Florida Gators in the SEC tournament on Saint Patrick’s Day. He’d end the night with ten points, two assists, and a rebound. Overall, Baker-Mazara has performed slightly better this year than in the SEC Final. He’s averaged 10.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 22.2 minutes per game with a 45% field goal conversion on the year. 

His next game will be on March 22 at 3:15 PM, when the Tigers will play the Yale Bulldogs in an East Region first-round game. 

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