Hard work is the secret behind Lady Brahmans’ success

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee High School Lady Brahmans basketball team split a series of two games this week, beating Suncoast and losing a contentious game to Jensen Beach.
Okeechobee dominated Suncoast on Jan. 13 at home, winning 70-32. Senior Alkeecia Clayton had a huge game for the Lady Brahmans, leading the team with 29 points on the night. Defensively, sophomore Jasmine Shanks played a big role in limiting the Suncoast offense.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
Senior Alkeecia Clayton points out a Jensen Beach player for her teammate on Jan. 16.

“We had a huge 35 point quarter with a running clock against Suncoast,” said Okeechobee coach Jovanny Torres. “Alkeecia led the way, hitting five-three pointers and finishing the quarter with 19. Jasmine Shanks was tasked with a very hard job to keep the ball out of their playmakers’ hands and she did just that. She takes pride in her defense and doesn’t show up on the stat sheet much but she was a big part of that run also. Keeping the ball out of their best players’ hands forced others to try and make plays and we just kept stealing the ball and scoring.”

“Semaj Jasper has been huge for us as well,” continued Torres. “My starting center Angelina Venters went down with a concussion and Semaj has stepped in and dominated the paint. Adryauna Baker also had 20 points in that Suncoast game. She gets to the rim whenever she wants and her shot is starting to come now also, so it’s getting harder to guard her.”
The Lady Brahmans struggled when they faced a tough, physical Jensen Beach team on Jan. 16. Jensen held a significant height advantage over Okeechobee, and used that to box out the Lady Brahmans on multiple rebounds all game. Okeechobee kept things close before ultimately falling 72-57.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
Freshman Callie Phillips pushes down court against Jensen Beach on Jan. 16.

Even with the loss, the Lady Brahmans are on a remarkable run this year. They currently have a 14-5 record and hold the No. 2 seed in their district.

“I’m definitely proud of these girls,” said Torres on the success his team has had this year. “This season has been a full 360 turnaround. Our chemistry has grown a lot because at the end of the season last year, I kept them together and we played in some travel basketball circuits and went to some college team camps at the University of Central Florida and Florida SouthWestern. We played a lot of top-notch teams and have seen a lot of different defenses and offensive sets. They worked their butts off this year conditioning and lifting weights. They bought in to the hard work ethic and it’s paying off. That’s been the secret to our success. The chemistry has grown, and their work ethic.”

Next the Lady Brahmans have back-to-back road games against DeSoto County and Glades Day on Jan. 23 and 24. After that they’ll host a home game against South Fork on Jan. 27.

“I told the girls to trust me,” concluded Torres. “There were days I worked them so hard they were wanting to give up, but they thank me for it now. They’re always saying, ‘Coach, we see why you did that now, these teams can’t hang with us, they’re already tired and we just getting started.’ I loved hearing that.”

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