BRIGHTON — The Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School boys and girls varsity teams concluded outstanding seasons as they departed the court for the final time with wins against West Glades on eighth-grade parent night Jan. 23.
In a pregame ceremony, the girls team honored its eighth-graders – Anyiah Baker and Jana Johnson – and the boys did the same for Santana Alvarez, Aundre Baker, Bryce Baker and Jaryko Billie.
Those players are leaving their programs in good shape. Both teams swept Yearling, LaBelle, Clewiston and Moore Haven this season. If not for Osceola Middle School, the PECS squads would have had perfect seasons.
“We’re losing really good players,” said boys coach Jaryaca Baker.
The boys team notched a memorable 53-50 overtime win against Clewiston before dropping a close game against Osceola Middle, 36-34.
Aundre Baker starred in the game against Osceola Middle as he scored a team-high 18 points. His steals and layups in the fourth quarter helped keep PECS’ hopes alive. Keenan Jones contributed six points.
Coach Baker said she enjoyed her first year as coach. She said the boys and her grew in respect for each other as the season went along.
“I wouldn’t rather have any other group of kids for my first year of coaching,” she said.
Similar to the boys, the PECS girls game against Osceola Middle wasn’t decided until the final seconds. Osceola Middle was up by four with 90 seconds left, but PECS wasn’t about to exit quietly.
Lason Baker hit a long 3-pointer and Carlee Osceola came up with a steal and layup to keep PECS within striking distance.
Truley Osceola drained a pair of 3-pointers in the waning seconds, but Osceola Middle managed to grab a key offensive rebound late and hung on for the win.
“[Osceola Middle] has some big girls. We just have to box them out and stay in there with them and rebound the ball,” said PECS coach Tim Thomas.
Despite the loss, Thomas was thrilled the way his team competed. In the teams’ first meeting, Osceola Middle won by 18; this time around the margin was a mere two points.
Carlee and Truley Osceola were the team’s leading scorers with 11 points each. Lason Baker scored 10 and Preslynn Baker had nine.
The good news for PECS – and perhaps bad news for its opponents – is that all four of those players and many more on the roster will be back in 2021.
“I’m only losing two players this year, so next year is going to be very promising,” Thomas said.
The Around the Lakes postseason tournament, which PECS won twice in recent years, remains on hiatus. PECS coaches said the only schools interested in playing were Osceola and PECS.