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Julia Smith, Luzana Venzor lead PECS to successful debut

Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School center Tava Harris controls the ball against Moore Haven Middle School’s Zorian Tullock during PECS’ 34-11 win in Brighton. The sixth-grader excelled on the boards at both ends and scored two points.
Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School center Tava Harris controls the ball against Moore Haven Middle School’s Zorian Tullock during PECS’ 34-11 win in Brighton. The sixth-grader excelled on the boards at both ends and scored two points.

BRIGHTON — For nearly two quarters, the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School girls basketball team fought a close battle against Moore Haven Middle School during its first game in the school’s new gymnasium.

Nursing a 9-8 lead, the Lady Seminoles suddenly found their shooting groove before halftime and went on to christen the new digs with a 34-11 victory Nov. 16.

PECS coach Tim Thomas said his young team shook off a few early nerves to win the season opener.

“It was time for them to start making some shots. They were missing a lot of easy shots at first. They had to shake the butterflies out,” Thomas said.

With seven sixth-graders on the roster, it was no surprise that the team encountered a few hiccups in the first half. Eventually the Lady Seminoles settled down thanks to their most experienced players. Led by Julia Smith and Luzana Venzor – the team’s only eighth-graders – PECS overwhelmed Moore Haven with a 25-3 spurt in the final 13 minutes.

With a game-high 14 points, Julia outscored the entire Moore Haven team. Most of her points came in the second half when the Lady Seminoles forced a bevy of turnovers, made smart passes and finished plays.

“[Julia] had a lot of open shots [in the first half], but she was trying to get everyone else involved. I needed her to score a little bit before getting everyone else involved,” Thomas said.

Despite being a point guard, Luzana took the game’s opening tip against Moore Haven center Makayla Moise. A couple minutes later, Luzana carved her name into PECS athletics’ lore when she scored the first points in the gym after she received a pass underneath the basket from Caylie Huff.

Luzana, who finished with eight points, and Julia showed why they’re being counted on to lead the squad.

“Those are my captains. They have to be leaders on the floor and leaders in the classroom. I hold them accountable,” Thomas said.

PECS received two points each from seventh-graders Caylie Huff and Haylie Huff. Caylie flashed defensive zone quickness by making a steal and driving the length of the floor for a layup that gave PECS a 15-8 lead late in the first half.

The team’s large sixth-grade contingent also made its mark. Tava Harris excelled on the boards at both ends and scored two points. Elle Thomas notched four points, and Alliana Brady scored two points.

“I’ve got a very young team this year,” Thomas said. “We had a lot of the sixth-graders come up, which is good for me because I’ll get them ready this year, and next year they should be pretty good.”

Remaining home games for the PECS girls and boys teams are: Dec. 9 vs. Clewiston, Dec. 15 vs. LaBelle, Jan. 13 vs. West Glades and Jan. 19 vs. Osceola.

2015-16 Pemayetv Emahakv girls basketball team

Head Coach: Tim Thomas

1 – Luzana Venzor

2 – Caylie Huff

3 – Karey Gopher

4 – Kayln Hammil

5 – Haylie Huff

11 – Elle Thomas

14 – LaShae King

15 – Alliana Brady

21 – Tammy Martinez

23 – Julia Smith

24 – Tava Harris

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