A long drought in Okeechobee is over.
The Okeechobee High School girls basketball team – which includes the Seminole Tribe’s Adryauna Baker, Caylie Huff and Haylie Huff – won a regional playoff game Thursday night for the first time since 1979.
Baker excelled in several areas with 11 rebounds, seven points, six steals, three assists and two blocks to lead the Brahmans (13-3) past Northeast-Oakland Park, 40-37, in overtime in a Class 5A-Region 4 quarterfinal at Okeechobee High School.
“She let her defense do all the talking and trusted her teammates to make the right plays as she drove and kicked to open players,” said Okeechobee coach Jovanny Torres. “She’s so fun to watch when she lets the game come to her.”
The Brahmans, which received a team-high 10 points from Sanye Washington and seven points from Justice Shanks, advance to face powerful American Heritage in a regional semifinal Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. in Plantation.
Thursday’s game was close from start to finish. Okeechobee led 16-14 at halftime.
Baker, a junior guard who is averaging 10 points and more than five rebounds per game, had a strong game at both ends of the court. She stepped up in the extra session to make sure Okeechobee’s season didn’t end.
“She took over in overtime with an amazing crossover that made the defender fall and then finished the layup through two defenders to finish the play. Then right when they inbounded the ball she stole it right back and drove hard to the lane and [caused] another foul,” Torres said.
Those plays sealed the victory.
Okeechobee received two points and two rebounds from senior forward Haylie Huff.
“Haylie also did an amazing job. She has been a huge part of our rebounding success. The numbers don’t show it but she is the anchor in our 2-3 defense,” Torres said.
The Brahmans won despite a shaky night from the free throw line (4-for-22). Defensively, though, Torres said his squad was “locked in.”
“It was a lot of shots that rattled in and out. They just weren’t falling for some reason, but our defense kept us in the game,” he said.
Okeechobee will be a big underdog against three-time defending state champion American Heritage, a private school that is ranked No. 5 in the nation by MaxPreps. Heritage (21-2) is led by 6-foot-2 University of Florida-bound twins Taliyah and Tatyana Wyche.
Heritage had the tribe’s Stubbs sisters – December and Tiana – on all three of those state title teams. They graduated last year, but their younger sister, Skye, is the team’s manager this season.
Both teams have notched recent lopsided wins against Westwood. Heritage rolled past Westwood, 68-23, a regional quarterfinal. Last week Okeechobee beat Westwood, 50-13, in the 5A-District 13 championship.