Eagles defeat Manatees on Special Olympics Night

President Eileen Holden, Athletic Director Bing Tyus, Head Coach Matt Furjanic,  and Eagles players and coaches join Special Olympics athletes and officials on the court during halftime ceremonies on Special Olympics Night. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)
President Eileen Holden, Athletic Director Bing Tyus, Head Coach Matt Furjanic, and Eagles players and coaches join Special Olympics athletes and officials on the court during halftime ceremonies on Special Olympics Night. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)

Polk State beat State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota 92-79 today on Special Olympics Night in Winter Haven. 

The Eagles missed some early shots and found themselves down 22-7 at the 13-minute mark in the first half. 

They then scored 10 unanswered points, cutting the deficit to 22-17. 

The Eagles went into halftime trailing 40-37. 

In the second half, they took a 55-53 lead with 12 minutes remaining and never trailed again. 

"State College of Florida really came out strong," said Head Coach Matt Furjanic. "I think they hit about the first seven or eight of their first shots and about four of them were three-pointers.

"But after that our guys really picked up the intensity on defense and really played hard. We had a lot of guys step up tonight. Darelle Porter stepped up and made some good free throws. Dominique Reid, Dayjar Dickson, and Reger Baker did a great job scoring inside, and when you do that it helps your guard play. 

"It was a good team effort. It's nice to bounce back after Wednesday's loss to St. Pete. Like I told our guys, we're still in first place in the conference. We need to keep winning to determine our fate." 

Darelle Porter led the Eagles with 20 points, including four three-point shots. 

Reger Baker scored 17 points. 

Troy Simons finished with 16 points and went five-for-six at the free-throw line. 

Dominique Reid collected 13 points, while Dayjar Dickson scored 10, and Elijah Cottrill had nine. 

Halftime featured a game between two teams from Polk County Special Olympics while the Eagles cheered and offered encouragement from their bench. 

Shelley Henry, Polk County director of Special Olympics, then presented a plaque to President Eileen Holden, Furjanic, and the players and assistant coaches in recognition of their support of Special Olympics. 

"We have sort of adopted them," said Furjanic. "Our players volunteered at a Polk County Special Olympics basketball competition in December. We were supposed to be there for about two hours, but when some other volunteers didn't show up, our players said that they wanted to stay all day. 

"They really bonded with the Special Olympians. It was so beautiful to watch our players putting their hearts out that day and making friends with the athletes, and since then we've had a few of them come to our games." 

Furjanic said he plans to have an ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. 

"We plan to make this an annual occurrence where we will help them at their competition and they will bring their athletes to play a halftime exhibition like they did tonight. 

"Our players were really into that exhibition game, and I don't want to say that it provided a little spark, but our players felt really good watching and cheering for the Special Olympians because they know some of these athletes now. They've made friends with them, and I really give credit to all our players for having such big hearts." 

Polk State (20-7, 5-1, No. 6 FCSAA) returns to action Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Hillsborough Community College in Winter Haven. 

 
Oct 31
Men's Basketball 7:30 PM
at Florida Southern College
Closed Scrimmage Lakeland, Fla.
Nov 04
Men's Basketball 4:00 PM
at Indian River State College
Fort Pierce, Fla.
Nov 07
Men's Basketball 7:00 PM
Daytona State College
Winter Haven, Fla.
Nov 14
Men's Basketball 7:30 PM
at College of Central Florida
Ocala, Fla.
Nov 18
Men's Basketball 2:00 PM
Eastern Florida State College
Winter Haven, Fla.
Nov 19
Men's Basketball 2:00 PM
ASA College (Miami)
Winter Haven, Fla.
Nov 21
Men's Basketball 7:00 PM
Santa Fe College
Winter Haven, Fla.
CONF ALL

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