OHS boy’s basketball team falls to Dillard

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee threw a scare into Fort Lauderdale Dillard until late in the third quarter before the Panthers defeated the Brahmans, 68-52, in the Class 6A-14 regional playoff game Feb. 11.

Jordan Wright had 31 points to lead Dillard (24-5). Okeechobee’s season ended with a record of (17-13).

OHS boys basketball falls to Dillard. Coach Demetre Riles instructs his players during the second half of Thursday’s playoff game in Fort Lauderdale.

Coach Demetre Riles instructs his players during the second half of Thursday’s playoff game in Fort Lauderdale.

Dillard enjoyed a size and strength advantage throughout the game.

Okeechobee responded with solid shooting from the outside.

The Panthers led, 17-13, after the first quarter and built a 25-16 lead midway through the second quarter. Okeechobee responded with an 8-3 run, behind eight points by Shaquoy Ferrol to pull to within 28-24 at the half. Ferrol led the Brahmans with 24 points. Chris Epps added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Coach Demetre Riles said he was proud of his team because they played a good game, were disciplined and stuck to the game plan.

“We kept it close for quite a while. Dillard was the better team, but we have nothing to hold our heads down about. That is one of the best teams in Florida and we were right there with them,” he noted.

The Brahmans did a good job of finding soft spots in the Panthers’ zone defense. Shooters like Epps, Ferrol and Mark Youmans had some good looks at the basket.

Riles said the Brahmans hard work this year really spoke volumes in this game. He said the team has a lot to look forward to, provided they work hard over the summer.

Wright said his team can’t afford to come out sluggish in playoff games if they intend to win the state championship. He said they did a better job of closing out on the Brahman shooters in the second half and stopped the wide open shots.

“Okeechobee went very hard. Coach told us we had to step it up or go home so we stepped it up,” he noted.

A three pointer by Epps and a basket by Antawyn Fludd kept Okeechobee to within 31-29 late in the third before Dillard went on a late 14-4 run to take control of the game.

A three pointer by Mark Youmans pulled Okeechobee to 58-49, but that was as close as they would get in the fourth quarter.

Coach Riles said the Panthers got a lot of easy baskets late in the game simply because they were stronger and taller and pushed his team around inside.

“We were just as athletic as them and the team gave it their all. We were able to do what we needed to do on offense and make no mistake were a good team,” he added.

Okeechobee tried to keep Dillard off balance by playing different defenses.

In the end Wright, Robert Johnson and Raiquan Gray were able to use their size to overpower the Brahmans inside.

Epps said he was pleased his team played hard in his final high school game.

“It feels pretty good. It just wasn’t a team win that we wanted. I hit a few three-point baskets and it felt great to play in a big arena. It makes you rise to greater heights,” he said.

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