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Determined effort points Moore Haven basketball in right direction

Moore Haven’s Corey Jumper (2) blocks out Clewiston’s Liam Davis on Dec. 7, 2021, at Clewiston High School. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

CLEWISTON – The comeback effort by the Moore Haven High School boys basketball team came up short against Clewiston, but it didn’t go unnoticed.

In fact, before the officials departed Clewiston’s gym, one reached out with praise to Terriers coach Preston Baker.

“Way to fight, way to fight,” the official said to Baker, whose team turned what had the early markings of an ugly night into a decent second half run in a 71-51 loss to the Tigers on Dec. 7.

Moore Haven, which lost most of its players from last year’s 3-6 team, features a young squad, which includes only three seniors.

In addition to Baker, who is in his second season at the helm, there is a considerable Seminole presence on the roster. Four players from the tribe – senior Jaytron Baker, junior Pherian Baker, junior Corey Jumper and freshman Kayden Warrior – are getting plenty of playing time, although Jumper has missed games – including  versus Clewiston – due to an injury.

Moore Haven’s Pherian Baker reaches for a rebound against Clewiston’s Tafarya Williams on Dec. 7, 2021, at Clewiston High School. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

Moore Haven could have used Jumper, a 6-foot-2 forward.

“Jaytron would have been a big factor tonight,” coach Baker said.

Despite four losses in its first five games, efforts like the one versus Clewiston keep Baker believing the team can attain lofty goals.

“Our goal was to go to states. We still can as long as we keep practicing and playing hard and don’t give up,” he said.

Indeed, Moore Haven played with plenty of determination even after being on the wrong end of a 20-0 run in the first quarter as Clewiston found its rhythm early. Pherian Baker, who is more accustomed to being a physical presence on Friday nights as a lineman for the Terriers football team, sent Clewiston players airborne on a couple occasions while driving toward the basket.

“He’s a football player. He drops that shoulder and goes to it,” said coach Baker, who is also Pherian’s dad.  

The younger Baker showed how extra effort pays off. He dove for a loose ball and, while still on flat on his stomach, managed to dish off a pass to a teammate for a basket. It was one of the team’s highlights, but there were others.

Moore Haven’s Kayden Warrior (35) and Ejekine Lennon (23) defend against Clewiston’s Chauncey Cobb on Dec. 7, 2021, at Clewiston High School. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

The smooth-shooting Warrior didn’t look like a freshman when he sank a three-pointer from the corner in the first half and then made another one from beyond NBA range in the second half.

Moore Haven trailed by 28 at halftime, but led by Jumper, who was strong at both ends of the court, the Terriers didn’t fade away quietly. They trimmed the deficit to 10 points a few times, including on a 3-point play from Jumper late in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Jumper scored after winning a battle in the paint for an offensive rebound that again put the deficit at 10.

 “CJ kept us in the game,” Baker said.

Moore Haven never pulled to within single digits, but the Terriers departed with some much-needed momentum.

“We did good in the second half. We had first half jitters; the second half we came out stronger,” Baker said.

Jumper finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Warrior had six points, two rebounds and an assist.

Clewiston generated balanced scoring, including 14 points from Chauncey Cobb.

Moore Haven’s lone victory so far came Dec. 1 against Donahue Catholic from Ave Maria. Jumper scored 11 points in the 48-43 victory.

Moore Haven boys basketball coach Preston Baker provides instruction from the sideline in the Terriers’ game at Clewiston High School on Dec. 7, 2021. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
Moore Haven’s Pherian Baker, right, and Aaryn Askew attempt to block Clewiston’s Kenari Wilcher on Dec. 7, 2021, at Clewiston High School. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
Moore Haven’s Corey Jumper reaches for a loose ball in the Terriers game against Clewiston on Dec. 7, 2021, at Clewiston High School. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
After diving for a loose ball, Moore Haven’s Pherian Baker manages to make a pass to a teammate against Clewiston on Dec. 7, 2021, at Clewiston High School. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
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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 kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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