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Big Town wins Herman L. Osceola tournament

After winning the Herman L. Osceola Memorial Tournament Men’s Division, players from Big Town join Herman’s family members on March 25 at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium in Big Cypress. A picture of Herman is on the wall in the background. (Photo courtesy Kelvin Robinson/BC Recreation)

BIG CYPRESS — Nobody was able to slow down Big Town’s big offense in the 32nd annual Herman L. Osceola Memorial Basketball Tournament on March 25.  Big Town won all three of its games – including a slugfest against Native Soldiers that featured more than 200 points – to claim the title in the Men’s Division, which featured four teams.

Playing in the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium, the tournament is a tribute to Lance Corporal Osceola, who died in a military helicopter accident in 1984 while serving the country with the U.S. Marines in South Korea. Members of Herman’s family attended the two-day tournament and provided meals and snacks for players and spectators. The family presented the prizes to the winners of three divisions: Big Town, the Seminoles (Men’s Legends) and the Lady Seminoles (Women’s Legends). There were no teams for the adult women’s division.

In the men’s championship, Big Town opened up a 57-44 halftime lead and held off Native Soldiers, 106-97. Jerome Davis set the tone early by scoring all 25 of his points in the first half. While Davis thrived down low, Jess Hart lit up the scoreboard from the outside. Hart poured in 21 points on seven 3-pointers. Big Town also received a dominant performance from Rob Given, who drained a team-high 33 points. Lucias Liotta had eight points while Jim Archambault, Wayne Runnels and Jay Liotta chipped in with six points each.

The hottest hand of the game belonged to Hunter Osceola, who led Native Soldiers with a game-high 46 points, which included a dozen 3-pointers. Native Soldiers received 26 points from Duelle Gore, who made eight 3-pointers. Greg Carter chipped in with 15 points and his brother DeForest Carter had 8 points.

The opening game of the men’s division featured an outstanding performance from Adrian Baker, who scored 46 points in Soul Clean’s victory against Just Buckets.

In what turned out to be a preview of the final, Big Town edged Native Soldiers, 80-70, in the second game. Hart paced Big Town with 32 points, which included 10 3-pointers. Gore accounted for half of Native Soldiers’ production with 35 points.

In the third game, Big Town used 22 points from Runnels to outgun Soul Clean, 71-64. Soul Clean was led by Jackson Frye (20 points) and Isiah Billie (16 points).

Native Soldiers ousted Just Buckets in the fourth game. Frankie Garcia and Neshoba Reed led Just Buckets with 17 points each.

Native Soldiers came right back to edge Soul Clean, 71-69, and advance to the final. Hunter Osceola propelled Native Soldiers to victory with 21 points. Baker paced Soul Clean with 23 points followed by Jackson Frye with 17 and Caden Blanchard with 12.

The tournament opened March 24 with the Legends Division. Two men’s and two women’s teams battled for championship bragging rights.

The Lady Seminoles needed just two games to claim the women’s Legends title against the Hollywood Ladies. The Lady Seminoles’ Rita Gopher was the offensive star of the division. She scored 11 points in the first game and 12 points in the second game.

The men’s Legends Division between the Seminoles and Old School went the distance with three games. The Seminoles won game one, but Old School answered with a 37-35 win in game two behind 18 points from Preston Baker before the Seminoles captured the winner-take-all finale, 52-37. Howard Tommie had 10 points for the champions.

Soul Clean – Third place Men’s Division (Photo courtesy Kelvin Robinson/BC Recreation)
Native Soldiers – Runner-up Men’s Division (Photo courtesy Kelvin Robinson/BC Recreation)
Members of Herman Osceola’s family gather at the conclusion of the 32nd annual Herman L. Osceola Memorial Basketball Tournament on March 25 at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium in Big Cypress. From left, Klaressa Osceola, Herman’s mother Ruby Osceola, Caroline Osceola, Kalina Cavazos, 6, and Veldina Osceola.
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