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OHS season ends in regional final

Brahmans finish 26-3 in Silas Madrigal’s final year

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee High School boys basketball season had just ended with a loss in a regional final in front of a packed home crowd.
Yet the team found one more triumph to enjoy in a season full of wins.

In what was essentially a victory lap to stamp a positive note on an outstanding season, the players – including the Tribe’s Silas Madrigal – and coaches emerged from the locker room and made an emotional journey around the court to shake hands and to give and receive hugs – when doing so was still safe – with their fans.

Okeechobee’s Silas Madrigal goes airborne to catch a pass during the Brahmans’ playoff game Feb. 28 against Pembroke Pines Charter. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

It lasted a good 15 minutes as the team received an outpouring of support.

“I couldn’t ask for a better team,” said Okeechobee coach Demetre Riles, who guided his alma mater to a 26-3 season, which included a second straight district championship and playoff wins against two South Florida teams (Belen Jesuit and Boyd Anderson) before succumbing to a third – Broward County’s Pembroke Pines Charter – in the Class 5A regional final Feb. 28.

The team’s only other losses all season came on opening night to Treasure Coast and in mid-January against Sebastian River in overtime. The rest of the way they were untouchable with all their regular season wins – except one – coming by margins of 10 points or more.

“They got the heart of a lion. They played hard throughout the whole season. They have a real business, professional approach,” Riles said.
Madrigal, a starting guard, played a vital role in it all. Riles said he admired the way Madrigal emerged as a leader this season.

“He came from being a guy coming off the bench to a good team player, a good starter, being able to knock down a 3 and play defense and he has speed and quickness. He’s a very important part of our team,” Riles said.

On a squad that featured very balanced scoring, Madrigal led the way with an average of 10.8 points per game, which included 17 in a 65-62 win against Boyd Anderson in the regional semifinals.

He sank five 3-pointers in that game, all part of the team-high 45 he made from beyond the arc this season. Sixteen times Madrigal reached double digits in scoring. His season high 25 points came in December against Clewiston.

In the regional final, Madrigal made a layup and went 2-for-2 from the line in a fast and fierce first quarter which ended with the Brahmans ahead 16-14.

Okeechobee High senior Silas Madrigal scores on a layup in front of a packed gym at OHS in a Class 5A regional final against Pembroke Pines Charter. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

Madrigal didn’t play much in the second quarter as Okeechobee, with a deep bench, rotated in several players. The game remained tight with Pembroke Pines Charter taking a 28-27 lead into the break.

In the third quarter, Okeechobee couldn’t contain the hot hand of Dallas Graziani, whose 3-point bombs – five in the quarter – broke open a close game on his way to a 31-point night.

Okeechobee pulled to within seven points early in the fourth quarter, but never got closer in the 72-55 defeat.

Madrigal finished with eight points and teammate Mikal Kelly had 14.
With the core of the team graduating this spring – Madrigal and six other seniors – Okeechobee will look vastly different next season, but this year’s squad won’t soon be forgotten.

“Best team I’ve ever coached,” Riles said.

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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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