Chipola repeats as women's state champions

Chipola repeats as women's state champions

OCALA-Chipola's Evelyn Akhator rewrote the FCSAA/ NJCAA Region VIII Tournament record book and led her team to its second straight tournament championship.

Akhator finished with 27 points and 29 rebounds in the championship game to lead the Indians to a 70-56 win over Northwest Florida State on Saturday night at the College of Central Florida.

The 29 rebounds by Akhator were six more than the previous record, which she tied on Friday and co-held with former Palm Beach State/WNBA standout Yolanda Griffith.

Also, Akhator totaled a record 64 rebounds in the tournament, seven more than the previous best held by FSC-Jacksonville's Adriana Hillsman set in 1991.

Akahtor ended her career with 101 total rebounds in six tournament games, four more than the record held by Griffith in tournament play from 1990-91.

The win by Chipola (30-1), the nation's No. 2 team, marked the first time a team won consecutive state titles on the women's side since Pensacola State won in 2011-12.

It was the first time since 2006-07 that the Indians won consecutive women's titles.

The 6-foot-3 Akhator was the difference in the tournament, as she grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and totally dominated against the only team to defeat the Indians this season.

She did pick up her third foul with 4:22 left in the first half.

It didn't hurt Chipola though.

NWFS, the nation's No. 3 team, was outscored 10-7 during that span and trailed by 10 at halftime.

Chipola is 91-11 under coach Greg Franklin and 50-7 against teams in the FCSAA Coaches' Poll over the past three seasons. 

The Indians can thank Akhator, who totaled 26 offensive rebounds in the tournament. 

In last year's state championship game, Akahtor had nine points and 18 rebounds.

She also became the first player since Griffith in 1990-91 to earn consecutive tournament MVP awards.

In eight games against NWFS, Chipola's Panhandle Conference rival, Akhator finished with 112 points and 115 rebounds.

More importantly, Chipola went 7-1 against the Raiders during Akahtor's time there. 

Chipola outrebounded NWFS 45-32 overall and limited the Raiders to 36 1 percent shooting.

Suterrica Key added 12 points for the Indians, who went 4-of-8 from 3-point range after going 0-for-6 in the first half.

Chipola never trailed and jumped out to a 15-4 lead.

The Raiders went 7:21 without a field goal, but battled back to within four with 10:23 left in the first half.

NWFS, which lost starting guard Takisha Jordan to an injury late in the first half, held Chipola without a point for over five minutes and got to within 22-17 with 3:22 remaining before halftime.

The Indians kept the pressure on without Akhator and led by 10 at halftime.

NWFS got as close as eight in the second half, but Akhator's 18 points in the second half were too much to overcome.

Simone Westbrook (12 points, five rebounds), Acey Powell (10 points), and Daniela Wallen (12 points) led the way for the Raiders.

Members of the all-tournament included: Chipola's Key and Kendra Martin; Northwest Florida State's Westbrook and Wallen; Daytona State's Brittney Chambers; Eastern Florida State's Rhaven Kemp; Miami Dade's Jackie Blake; St. Petersburg's Shayla Wilson; CF's Thais Oliveira; Gulf Coast's Kristina King, Kiara Phillips.