STUART — Okeechobee High School boys basketball coach Demetre Riles said during the district playoffs that he wanted this year’s team to leave a legacy that wouldn’t be forgotten.
The Brahmans did just that.
As the No. 3 seed, Okeechobee swept the Class 7A-District 13 tournament. The Brahmans, loaded with seniors playing in their final district tournament, captured the district title with a 44-40 win against top-seeded Jensen Beach on Feb. 16. According to the Lake Okeechobee News, it was the team’s first district title in 28 years.
Although their dreams of making it to Lakeland for the Final Four fell short after a 45-44 loss to Dillard-Fort Lauderdale in the regional quarterfinals, the Brahmans’ accomplishments won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
The Tribe’s Lucas Osceola and Silas Madrigal played key roles in one of the most successful seasons in school history as the team finished with a 23-5 record, marking the third straight year of 20-plus wins, all with Riles at the helm.
Osceola, a starting senior guard, shined in his final season. He averaged about five points, four rebounds and two steals per game while providing valuable versatility all over the court. Ball-handling, shooting, passing, steals and even having a presence on the boards were all areas Osceola excelled in as he provided an all-around abundance of benefits. Despite being one of the smaller players – 5-foot-8- on a tall team that featured four players 6-foot-4 and taller – Osceola’s hands often grabbed rebounds. He had 11 boards in a regular season game against Eau Gallie.
“He’s a rebounder, too. He’s an all-around player. He’ll get in there and mix it up. He can rebound with the best of them and he can block shots,” Riles said after the team’s 63-49 win against Bayside in the district semifinals at South Fork High School.
Osceola snagged five rebounds against Bayside and hit a key 3-pointer from the corner that put the Brahmans up 35-30 during a pivotal 9-0 run late in the third quarter after Bayside had taken a 30-28 lead, which turned out to be its last lead of the game.
“Big-time 3. It kind of opened up the game a little bit,” Riles said.
Osceola finished with five points. The next night in the district title game he scored nine points and proudly clutched the championship plaque during the team’s celebration.
In an interview after the Bayside game, Osceola said this year was by far the most fun season of his high school career.
“We all have a lot of chemistry together,” he said.
Osceola is part of the huge group of seniors who no doubt left their mark on the program. The only non-seniors on the club were three juniors, including Madrigal, a smooth-shooting guard who provided some scoring punch off the bench. Although his playing time was limited at times on a senior-dominated squad, he scored in double digits in back-to-back games late in the season, first with 16 points against Clewiston and then 12 points against Berean Christian. He averaged more than five points per game.
Okeechobee will lose plenty of height to graduation, but the smaller returning group, including Madrigal, have already been a part of plenty of successful nights, not only this season with varsity but also last year when they went 18-1 on JV.
“They’re a smaller group. They play a different style. Next year you’ll see a different style with those guys,” Riles said.