BRIGHTON — Clewiston Middle School proved to be the only thing that kept Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School boys basketball from an undefeated season and a championship.
The Seminoles settled for runner-up honors in the inuaugural season-ending Around the Lakes Tournament. Two weeks after ending PECS’ undefeated season, Clewiston returned to Brighton and captured the tournament championship with a hard-fought, entertaining 55-52 win Feb. 10 on the Seminoles home court.
Facing a squad with a deeper bench, PECS’ uphill battle became steeper when the Seminoles lost guard Ramone Baker early in the game. After making a layup, Baker landed awkwardly on his leg and fell to the ground. He hobbled off, but his day and season were done. Minutes later, Seminole Tribe Fire & Rescue wheeled Baker away on a stretcher.
“It was unfortunate that Ramone went down. That really hurt us. He’s been playing really well lately,” said coach Kevin Jackson, whose final game as PECS coach wasn’t decided until the final minute.
Clewiston opened up a nine-point lead in the second quarter, but PECS fought back to knot the score at 26-26 at halftime. Donovan Harris sank a 3-pointer from the corner and Jaylen Baker scored on a putback at the buzzer.
In the second half, Clewiston appeared to be pulling away when it built a 39-31 lead. But again PECS clawed its way back. Harris scored nine points in the quarter to pull PECS to within three points heading into the fourth quarter.
With three minutes left in the game, Dathan Garcia set up Dakoya Nunez for a layup that that tied the game at 47-47, but Clewiston’s Morris James answered with his fifth 3-pointer of the game to give his team a lead it would not relinquish.
“We had some opportunities late; we just couldn’t capitalize,” Jackson said.
Harris and Baker led PECS with 20 points each followed by Nunez with seven points.
“[PECS] played great. They came right back. They played disciplined basketball,” said Clewiston coach Devon Scott, whose team wrapped up a perfect season with an 18-0 record.
Clewiston was led by sharp-shooting Demarcus Crawford with a game-high 24 points and James with 19 points.
The tournament featured four teams. Both teams won semifinals the prior day at PECS.
“I wish more teams would have got in,” Scott said. “The kids had a great time.”
PECS finished with an 11-2 record; the lone blemishes coming at the hands of Clewiston.
“Give them a lot of credit. They are a tough team. They shot well from 3-point,” Jackson said.
The championship marked Jackson’s final game as PECS coach. He said he and his wife, Kim, who coached PECS girls volleyball, have left their teaching and coaching jobs at the school and are pursuing graduate degrees.
“This is it for me. I’m retiring,” Jackson said.