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Ahfachkee girls enjoying successful season

BIG CYPRESS — With four wins in its first six games, the Ahfachkee School girls basketball team has had plenty of reasons to celebrate this season.

But Ahfachkee’s upbeat attitude goes beyond just the scores. First-year head coach Jarvis Jones said the team brings an energetic and unselfish approach that he loves.

“I like that everybody supports each other whether they get a lot of playing time or they barely get any playing time, everybody is supportive,” Jones said. “If you look at the bench when a shot goes in everyone is cheering.

When a stop is made, everybody is cheering. There’s not one selfish player on this team. For me, being around basketball for a long time, that’s a first for me.”

Ahfachkee senior Alena Stockton lines up a 3-pointer against Highlands Christian on Jan. 14 in West Palm Beach. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

The players were especially thrilled to cap senior night for Destiny Cypress, Leilani Gopher and Alena Stockton with a win against a young Moore Haven High School squad on Jan. 23 at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium.

“Everybody came out for senior night. There’s a lot of support, not just from the basketball team, but from the whole community,” Jones said.

The seniors did their part in the 51-25 victory. Stockton poured in a game-high 15 points, which included three 3-pionters.

The Ahfachkee School girls basketball team, with new head coach Jarvis Jones at right, gets fired up before facing Moore Haven High School on Jan. 23 in Big Cypress. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

Gopher had six points on a pair of 3-pointers and Cypress scored two points. The biggest cheers of the night from the Ahfachkee bench and the crowd came on three baskets made by Tahnia Billie, who is one of three sixth-graders on the squad.

Stockton is the team’s leading scorer this season. She has been a powerful force at both ends of the court this with her rebounding and scoring touch from inside and outside and demonstrated plenty of skill in passing.

She’s attracted interest from colleges, including Florida SouthWestern State University in Fort Myers.

“Florida Southwestern came to the game today. I think they liked what they saw,” Jones said. “She’s a really solid player. One of the best players I’ve ever worked with. She works hard. She’s a straight-A student which is the best thing I like about her. She’s a student first, great in the classroom, great with her siblings, great with her teammates. She’s awesome.”

Ahfachkee guard Carlise Bermudez brings the ball up court against Immokalee on Jan. 21. Joining the rush on the left is Makayla Torres. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

But Ahfachkee has depth this year, something the team has lacked in recent seasons.

Sophomore Carlise Bermudez and freshman Makayla Torres carry a lot of ball handling duties along with Stockton and they’ve shown poise far beyond their grades, which bodes well for the future of the team which will have holes to fill next season with the loss of the trio of seniors.

Torres set the tone against Moore Haven with two steals and layups in the first minute.

Ahfachkee’s bench and crowd erupt as they cheer after a teammate made a basket against Moore Haven.

Win or lose, Ahfachkee has battled every step of the way this season.

“Every game we’ve competed hard. Every game we’ve had a chance to win,” Jones said.

The team is scheduled to play in district playoffs at Sheridan Hills Christian School in Hollywood on Feb. 4.

Former Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School coach Preston Baker is in his first year at the helm of the Moore Haven girls team.

Ahfachkee senior Leilani Gopher launches a 3-point shot against Immokalee. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

The Terriers are in rebuilding mode with a small, young squad that includes former PECS player Tafv Harris and four freshmen.

“It’s going pretty good. Everybody is new,” Baker said. “We don’t have any seniors. It’s a work in progress. I love coaching this team. I love working from the bottom up because that’s how I started. Look where I am now. I never thought I’d be here.”

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at