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Northwest Florida State College

Raiders light up stat sheet in W

Raiders light up stat sheet in W

NICEVILLE – When the Region 8 Men's Basketball Coaches poll was released Tuesday morning, long before Steve DeMeo's crew rolled to a 122-42 win over Enterprise State at The Arena, NWF State was predictably No. 1.

Not quite unanimous, 19 first-place votes cast to Eastern Florida's one, yet still a dominant stranglehold for a crew that entered Tuesday ranked tops in the nation at 4-0 and riding 100-65 scoring differential.

Accompanying the poll was a Player of the Week nod, an award celebrating Nashad Mackey for his three-game stretch of 17.7 points per game, 10 rebounds and 67-percent shooting effort for Daytona State.

Those individual awards, though, mean nothing to NWF State.

The Raiders have guys that have played in the Big 12 and Pac-12. Guys that are headed to the ACC. Guys that could easily average 20-plus points a night.

Guys that are going places, literally – check the signings over DeMeo's four-year tenure in Niceville.

Yet a cursory glance at the team's individual stats reveals you'd be hard-pressed to pinpoint one go-to player. One guy that would demand double-teams.

That's because, within this Raiders system, there are just too many to count. Tuesday's stat sheet perhaps personified that.

You thought the 4-0 start was a statistician's dream? Psh, Tuesday was a different level.

The Raiders shot 69 percent from the floor – a season-best after shooting 65, 65, 63 and 59 in their first four games – and drained 15 of 26 3-pointers. Thirty-two of the 47 makes were assisted on and the Raiders, led by 16 points from both Daryl Edwards and Pittsburgh commitment Jared Wilson-Frame, had seven guys in double figure points.

Even walk-on Casey Ponder, a local product from Rocky Bayou, lit it up late with seven points.

But that's just the insane depth the Raiders have displayed all season, the depth they displayed Tuesday night when everyone was giving up an open shot for an even-more open shot.

A night where everyone truly shined as the Raiders put at least a scare into the 1972 record of 89 first-half points with 75 in the opening 20 minutes.

Guard Teehjay Bogan had a few enormous takes and buried both 3s for 13 points.

Center Andrew Gordon had some rim-shaking flushes for eight points and six rebounds.

Guard Daryl Edwards had eight points in a 40-second stretch early in the night and made all four 3-point attempts.

Wing Ron Freeman also had that 3-point stroke working for 13 points, while point guard Andres Feliz was attacking the rim at will for 15 points.

Forward Jeromy Rodriguez added 13 points and a team-high eight boards, highlighting a 47-18 disparity on the boards, and guard PJ Bruce added 11 points and team-best 10 assists and four steals.

"Everyone on this team can play, even our walk-on," DeMeo said. "And they like each other. When the guys like each other, you see the results. Obviously we were hot tonight.

"This team is a very good team, very well-coached, but they caught us when we were making shots."

The undefeated Raiders will ride the momentum to a pair of tough matchups this weekend at The Arena, which will play host to Spartanburg Methodist Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and San Jacinto Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

"Hopefully we can draw some people in this weekend because two really good teams are coming in," DeMeo said. "You got Spartanburg Methodist, who played Northwest Florida (then Okaloosa-Walton) for the championship in 1995. And then you have St. Jac, who has won numerous national championships.

"This weekend is going to be a challenge for us."