Eagles Capture Suncoast Conference Title
The Polk State College men's basketball team posted two victories Wednesday and won the Suncoast Conference title.
The sixth-ranked Eagles (22-8) came back from a 19-point deficit with seven minutes to go to down St. Petersburg 62-58 Wednesday on the road.
The Eagles earned a second victory Wednesday by forfeit, giving them a 7-2 Suncoast Conference record.
Polk State College was given an additional victory Wednesday from the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) after an appeal by State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota was denied.
The Manatees were found to have played an ineligible player in a contest at Polk State College on January 23.
The Suncoast Conference title is the second in three years for the Eagles and marks the third consecutive year the Polk State College team has earned a berth into the FCSAA/NJCAA Region 8 tournament.
It is also the sixth Suncoast Conference title in 13 years for Hall of Fame coach Matt Furjanic.
The FCSAA/NJCAA Region 8 tournament begins March 6 at Chipola College in Marianna.
Wednesday, the Eagles rallied late in the contest to defeat St. Petersburg.
Sophomore Ralph Simmons (Charleston, S.C.) led the Eagles with 12 points and six assists.
Sophomore I.D. Ismaila Dauda (Nigeria) added four points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
"We got the wins we needed to," said Furjanic. "After finding out we won the conference, we could have gone into the (St. Petersburg) game flat. I have to give our players a lot of credit for winning and to keep it up."
The win by forfeit made Polk's 81-78 victory over State College of Florida on February 17 all the more significant, giving the Eagles two victories out of three games with the Manatees.
"Last Saturday's game was huge because it gave us the opportunity to win the tie -breaker," Furjanic said. "That was the game that pretty much gave us the opportunity to win the league."
Wednesday's game was also important for the team's confidence down the road.
"We want to make sure we keep winning," Furjanic said. "You don't want to lose going into the playoffs. It's two weeks until the playoffs. You want to know what a win felt like."