Raiders Lose Heartbreaker Regional Championship to Chipola

The Northwest Florida State College Raiders lose a heartbreaker by two to Chipola - National Tournament up next.

After two close wins in the tournament – The Northwest Florida State College Raiders would not earn a third in the NJCAA Region 8 Championship Game against the Chipola Indians. 

The Raiders would fall two points short in a defensive contest that ended on a Rasheed Jones heave from half-court. 

Chipola would take the medals and a 50-48 win. Chipola’s Greedy Williams would take player of the tournament – and Chipola Head Coach Donny Tyndal would earn Coach of the Tournament. 

1st Half | 25-19

The Indians’ enormous fan presence helped. Technically, after all, they were the home team for the game.

Jayden Shider would grab the first bucket for the Raiders two and a half minutes into the game. But, the Raiders would quickly lose their lead to the fast-moving Indians. 

Chipola outhustled Northwest Florida on the court, which meant the Raiders found themselves on their back feet while still playing solid defense—their hallmark throughout this tournament. 

Chipola would stuff several attempts for baskets. In the first half – and keep the Raiders to 26.7% shooting – that number got as low as 16% ten minutes into the first half. Only one Raider, Tyrese Elliot, would sink more than one shot all half. 

The Raiders reached their nadir in the first half when the hero of the game against Florida Southwestern, Tavion Banks, took a hard spill on the court and had to get help off the court. He entered the locker room immediately afterward and would return later in the second half. 

Rasheed Jones would get the Raiders within a single possession with a beautiful three-point shot from the top of the key. Chipola’s Zocko Littleton would answer soon after with a three-ball to keep Chipola ahead of the Raiders. 

To sum up the first half, Jerald Colonel would put the hammer down on the rim to make a statement before the squads marched into the locker room for halftime speeches from their respective head coaches. 

Second Half | 50-48

Whatever Coach Steve DeMeo said in the locker room – it worked. 

Jamal Sumlin scored his first-half basket in the first 30 seconds of the second half, and Jayden Shider followed soon after. 

But it was Tajuan Simpkins who would distinguish himself in the second half. 

Tajuan Simpkins sank a three to cut the lead down to one. Seconds later, he put another three on the board and took back the lead for the first time since the beginning of the first half. The crowd went nuts, and Chipola called a halftime. 

A three-point shooting foul on Rasheed Jones put the Raiders ahead again – Jones would sink two of three. 

Tajuan kept hammering away from behind the line. Twelve points in the space of seven minutes for the Redshirt Freshman. Raiders up 36-29 at the seven-minute mark. 

Indians would fight their way back into the game and regain control in a vicious fight for two in the paint. Dontae Walker heaved the ball up and into the net despite stifling defense from the Raiders post players. Seconds later, Walker woudl return to the basket for two more. Raiders would have just five and a half minutes to regain control and seal the tournament win. 

At this point in the game, Tajuan Simpkins’s hot hand had cooled off, and he began to throw bricks at the rim. 

With less than a minute left, the Raiders needed four points to tie the game. An over-and-back call gave Rasheed Jones the ball and a three-point shot, putting Northwest Florida State within a single point of the Indians. 

But it was not to be. The Raiders could not convert that single-point deficit into a win. The Indians, who were up to that point 1 for 6 on the night from the free-throw line, hit one more to seal the deal. 

Now, The Raiders must wait to hear their name called for the national tournament, which will be broadcast on Sunday afternoon on the NJCAA Network. 


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