Lady Terriers survive late Okeechobee rally

After a few former Lady Brahmans basketball players made the switch to Moore Haven in between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school year, a small rivalry developed between the two teams. Okeechobee head coach Jovanny Torres admitted that his players had the game against the Lady Terriers circled on their calender in the beginning of the Lady Brahmans’ season this year.

Former Lady Brahmans Caroline Sweat and Alicia Fudge led Okeechobee in points scored and rebounds in 17-18. After transferring to Moore Haven, the pair now lead the Lady Terriers and had the team at a 7-4 record before their Jan. 7 match-up against their former team.

Fans in attendance at Okeechobee High School were treated to a thrilling back-and-forth game as the newfound rivalry game lived up to the hype.

Moore Haven escaped with a 64-63 victory after a clutch three-point buzzer beater by the Lady Brahmans saw them fall just short.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
Moore Haven Lady Terriers coach Al Gary addresses his team during a time-out in the second half.

The two teams looked evenly matched for most of the game, but early turnovers by Okeechobee gave Moore Haven the lead. When the two teams went into halftime with Okeechobee down 33-26, it looked like the Lady Terriers might be able to shut the door on the Lady Brahmans in the second half.

But Okeechobee came out with a fire under their feet in the second half and were able to stay neck and neck with Moore Haven, thanks in part to a great performance by OHS junior Alkeecia Clayton.

“After the first half she was really down on herself in the locker room,” said Torres of Clayton. “I kind of cracked some jokes with her and told her to put it behind her and start the third quarter like it was a new game. She responded well. Her shots finally started to drop and her confidence came back. She is our motor; once she gets going they all get going.”

Clayton had some clutch three-point shots and steals in the fourth quarter.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
Moore Haven senior Alicia Fudge attempts to get past Okeechobee freshman Adryauna Baker.

Okeechobee’s trap defense was able to frustrate the Moore Haven offense for stretches of the game, causing Lady Terrier players to make mistakes and turn the ball over on multiple occasions. But Moore Haven was eventually able to bypass the Okeechobee defense with some well-placed passes and fast breaks that caught the Lady Brahmans off guard.

Still, Okeechobee was to take the lead 50-49 with less than four minutes remaining in the game. But MHS seniors Sweat and Fudge were able to rely on some of their veteran experience and remain calm under pressure to regain the lead and maintain it to the final buzzer. Moore Haven junior Rayne Schmidt also played well, leading the Lady Terriers in points with 18 followed by Sweat with 16 and Fudge with 12.

The loss drops Okeechobee to 5-9 for the season, but the Lady Brahmans will get another shot at the Lady Terriers in a few weeks on Jan. 19, this time in Moore Haven.

Moore Haven will now be on the road again to face a 2-7 Oasis team on Jan. 9, while Okeechobee will host the 4-8 Martin County Lady Tigers on Jan. 10.

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