Brahmans lead the pack in basketball around the lake

OKEECHOBEE — When it comes to varsity basketball around Lake Okeechobee, there’s the Okeechobee Brahmans and then there’s everyone else.

Okeechobee High School has proven it is the team to beat in the early going of the 2018 season, going undefeated through its first four games.

Okeechobee junior Silas Madrigal guards Clewiston junior Jaivius Chavers in the Brahmans 76-23 win over the Tigers. Okeechobee played an aggressive full-court defense that Clewiston had trouble overcoming. Photos by Richard Marion.

Along the way, the Brahmans have defeated two lake area teams, Clewiston and Moore Haven, and a longtime district foe in Sebastian River.

The Brahmans nearly ran the Clewiston Tigers out of Okeechobee by halftime when they stormed to a 51-17 lead in their Nov. 28 match-up. In fact, the Tigers didn’t even get on the board until the Brahmans were already up by 25. Okeechobee would end up winning 76-23.

In that game, Okeechobee senior Jemal Davis led the team in points with 17, followed by fellow seniors Trey Anthony and J-Quan Ferrol who both had 16. Clewiston senior Chas’man Ware led the Tigers with seven points.

Clewiston senior Chas’man Ware is one of the only players on the Tigers squad with extensive experience playing varsity basketball. Photos by Richard Marion.

Clewiston head coach Tim Carter had nothing but praise for the Brahman basketball program.

“They’re a very good team,” said Carter. “Big, strong and they do everything fundamentally right. I’d say they’re a goal for where we want to be. If we can play as good as they play, then everything will be all right.”

This year Clewiston is in somewhat of a rebuilding phase for the program. Only one player on the varsity squad has extensive experience in basketball, Ware. Carter says the team is centered on Ware and he looks to Ware to lead the Tigers and help prepare the young players around him.

Following their dismantling of Clewiston, the Brahmans moved on to face district rivals the Sebastian River Sharks on Nov. 30. Sebastian River was one of the few teams to beat Okeechobee during their stellar 2017 season. The Brahmans had dropped their last three games against the Sharks, and many looked at this game to be the true test of whether Okeechobee was a legitimate contender this year.

Okeechobee was able to reel in the Sharks with a final score of 56-50, although the Brahmans wouldn’t leave the game completely unscathed. Senior J-Quan Ferrol left after rolling his ankle, forcing Okeechobee to compete against a tough opponent without one of its major weapons. The Brahmans were up to the task, however, with senior Kimani Mcintosh having a great game and leading the team in points with 16.

Ferrol’s ankle injury put his status in question for the Brahmans’ game against the Moore Haven Terriers on Dec. 4. Although Ferrol didn’t start against the Terriers, he came into the game early in the first half and played well.

Unlike their game against Clewiston, the Brahmans found the Terriers to be a little more scrappy than the Tigers. The two teams went into halftime with Okeechobee leading 32-26.

Many of the players on the Moore Haven varsity basketball team were also on the varsity football team, whose season just wrapped up two weeks ago. Moore Haven juniors Lorenzo Sampson, Kelton Hallback and sophomore Nate Crawford are all still adjusting to basketball season after their tough loss in the playoffs back on Nov. 16. The former football players on the Okeechobee basketball squad, junior Veyon Washington and seniors Jalen Pryor and Blaine Keathly, got a two-week head start on their basketball preparation after they played their last game on Nov. 2 due to the fact that the Brahman football program missed the playoffs this year.

Okeechobee was able to pull away from Moore Haven in the second half and secure the 71-56 win thanks in part to a 20-point fourth quarter.

Now the Brahmans will play two road games against South Fork on Dec. 7 and Central on Dec. 11 before returning to Okeechobee to face district foe Heritage on Dec. 14.

The Okeechobee Brahmans and Clewiston Tigers basketball teams shake hands after Okeechobee’s 76-23 victory over Clewiston on Nov. 28. Photos by Richard Marion.

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