This was the third meeting between the two teams with Palm Beach State winning all three of the contests. "We had too many turnovers this evening to beat a good team," pointed out IRSC Head Coach Charlie Wilson. The Pioneers committed 25 turnovers in the ballgame which lead to 24 unanswered points by Palm Beach. "Even with that many turnovers we still had an opportunity to win the game at the end," committed Coach Wilson.
The Pioneers took a 9-2 lead after an offensive rebound and put back by 6'8" sophomore Joshua Oliver (Jacksonville, FL), but Palm Beach pulled to within three points 15-12 with 13 minutes to go in the half. Cedric Jackson (6'3" freshmen, Orlando, FL) tipped-in his own missed three-point shot to increase IRSC's lead to six points, 18-12. The Pioneers went cold on the offensive end of the floor failing to score on four straight possessions allowing Palm Beach to take the lead 21-20. There were several lead changes during the first half, but IRSC capitalized on 4 straight points by 6'8" freshmen forward Shaq Rombley (Alachua, FL) to take a two point lead into the half 40-38.
Palm Beach scored the first five points of the second half and continued to attack the basket building a 51-43 lead, but three timely three-point baskets by Cedric Jackson, Eli Farley (5'8", sophomore, Orlando, FL) and Deontae Weaver (6'3", guard, Ocala, FL) gave IRSC the lead 54-53. The lead seesawed back and forth in the second half, but another big three-point basket by Cedric Jackson gave the Pioneers a three point lead 66-63 with 5:24 to go. Back-to-back turnovers allowed Palm Beach to recapture the lead 74-69. Cedrick Jackson answered again with his final three of the game pulling IRSC back within two points 74-72. The Pioneers got the defensive stop and had one more chance to tie the score or take the lead with 42 seconds left, but could not get a decent look at the basket. IRSC's record drops to 17-11 and 8-7 in the conference. Cedric Jackson led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Joshua Oliver 14 and Willy Nunez (6'6" sophomore, Orlando, FL) chipped in 13 points.
The Pioneers continue to make progress qualifying for the playoffs for the second straight year as they will travel to Davie Florida on Saturday, February 25th for a 2 p.m. start when they take on Broward College. The winner will move to the championship game on Monday February 27th as they take on Palm Beach State for a chance to play in the state tournament in Ocala, Florida.