BRIGHTON — Just how tough is it to face the ultra-aggressive defense of the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School girls basketball team?
West Glades Middle School found out the hard way that PECS prides itself on the work it does without the ball.
The Lady Seminoles used their suffocating defense to build a big lead and do something rarely done in basketball – pitch a shutout – in a 47-0 win Dec. 13.
“Our press defense has been very good,” said PECS coach Tim Thomas. “I teach them that if we get turnovers, defense wins the game. Hustle, trap, make them throw it away, intercept the pass and get a layup.”
All of which was on display in the game’s first minute as PECS made three steals before West Glades saw the other side of the court.
After Ysla Gopher sank a short jump shot to open the game, Adryauna Baker stole the inbounds pass and laid the ball in for a 4-0 lead. A West Glades timeout didn’t halt the ferocious press.
Kalyn Hammil stole another pass and fed Ysla for a layup. Moments later, Giselle Micco showed no quit as she forced a jump ball with hard work on defense.
PECS laid off on the press once they built a sizable lead. The Lady Seminoles were sharp with the ball, too. Adryauna led a balanced attack with 14 points followed by nine from Ysla, seven each from Karey Gopher and Lexi Thomas and four each from Tafv Harris and Kaylin.
The victory helped erase some of the bad taste left from the night before when PECS suffered its first loss of the season, a one-point overtime nail biter against Osceola Middle.
“Our goal was to go undefeated until last night,” Thomas said. “We got back on track today and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Karey and Adryauna led the way against Osceola with 10 points each. Ysla had five points and Elle Thomas had four points.
In addition to the triumph against West Glades, PECS (3-1) picked up early season wins against Clewiston (50-17) and LaBelle (37-30).
Giselle had a game-high 11 points against Clewiston followed by Adryauna (9), Tafv (9), Karey (8), Ysla (7) and Elle (4).
In the LaBelle game, Adryauna paced the offense with 14 points while Tafv and Karey contributed 11 points each.
While PECS has thrived so far in defense and scoring, Thomas said there are areas that need improvement, especially at the foul line.
“We’re still missing a lot of free throws. I work on that daily with them at practice. It’s just not going in right now for us,” Thomas said. “I told them in a tight game, free throws are going to count.”
Thomas said his team would have beat Osceola if it had made a couple more free throws. PECS will get another shot at Osceola in the final regular season game Feb. 1, which will also be 8th grade parent night for the team’s seven eighth-graders.
PECS will also be looking to defend the conference title it won last year. The conference tournament is expected to be held in early February.
After several successful seasons with Kevin Jackson at the helm, the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School boys basketball team hasn’t missed a beat with a new head coach.
This season PECS is being guided by Preston Baker. Having served as an assistant coach for Jackson the past two years, Baker is plenty familiar with the players and with winning. The transition has been smooth as PECS roared out to a 5-0 start as of mid-December.
“I like it. I learned a lot from Kevin Jackson last year and the year before that. He taught me a lot. He’s a real good coach,” said Baker, who has one son on the team (Pherian) and several nephews.
All indications are for PECS to be a serious contender to claim its conference championship. The Seminoles overwhelmed West Glades, 48-5, on Dec. 13 for its fifth win. More impressive so far early in the season were wins against Clewiston and Osceola.
“We’re starting to focus and put everything together and get our heads in the game. They’re listening, they’re passing. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do,” Baker said.
PECS weaknesses are hard to find; its strengths are plentiful. The team features a solid balance inside and outside. Size, scoring and rebounding come from a talented group of forwards. A smart, experienced core of guards provide reliability and pass the ball with nary a hiccup.
Jayton Baker, Jaytron Baker and Corey Jumper are among the big men being counted on to control the paint at both ends. They haven’t disappointed.
“That’s the most impressive part, they’re working both ends. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do on offense and then they’re hustling right back down on defense,” Baker said.
Being sharp offensively and defensively also describes the guards, led by Dakoya Nunez, Nakai Alex, Deagan Osceola and Tanner Gore.
“They handle the ball well. They move the ball. Hardly any turnovers. They’re ready for ninth grade,” Baker said.
Before the high school careers start, there’s plenty of work left to be done in the middle school season.
PECS exacted some revenge with the win against Clewiston. Last year, Clewiston handed PECS its only losses of the season.
2018 PECS varsity girls basketball team
Head coach: Tim Thomas
Asst. coach: Jewel Buck
30 Javale Anderson
4 Adryauna Baker
3 Karey Gopher
12 Ysla Gopher
1 Kalyn Hammil
35 Tafv Harris
10 LaShae King
23 Angelie Melton
15 Giselle Micco
22 Shylynn Testerman
11 Elle Thomas
2 Lexi Thomas
2018 PECS varsity boys basketball
Head coach: Preston Baker
Asst. coach: Aaron Suarez
12 Nakai Alex
1 Aundre Baker
2 Bryce Baker
24 Jayton Baker
21 Jaytron Baker
3 Tanier Gore
20 C.J. Jumper
4 Dakoya Nunez
14 Deagan Osceola
10 Bryce Ward