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PECS basketball returns to action after two years off

PECS’ Ila Trueblood makes a layup in the girls game against Moore Haven on Dec. 15, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

BRIGHTON — Basketballs are once again bouncing on the court at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School’s gymnasium.

After two years with no sports at the school due to the pandemic, the girls and basketball teams resumed playing in November.

The girls, coached by former Okeechobee High girls varsity coach Jovanny Torres, have continued their winning ways. Traditionally one of the strongest teams in the area, PECS only had one loss in their first eight games. Their victories included a 37-32 home win on 8th grade parent night against Moore Haven Middle School on Dec. 15.

PECS’ Gregory James (23) takes a jump shot in the boys game against Moore Haven on Dec. 15, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

PECS’ girls jumped out to a 15-2 lead after one quarter and held off a late charge by the Terriers.
Charisma Micco scored a team-high 11 points for PECS. Azariah Washington had eight points while Kulipa Julian (six points), Ila Trueblood (four points) and Cherrish Micco (four points) rounded out the balanced scoring attack.

“We have a solid group here,” Torres said.

It’s a large group, too. The team carries 19 players. PECS has enough players for a JV team, but there wasn’t enough schools in the area this season that could say the same. So a few JV players get inserted into varsity games on a rotating basis.

Melaine Bonilla (23) controls the ball despite being bumped by a Moore Haven player on Dec. 15, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

Opponents often have their hands full defending PECS because scoring can come from just about anywhere. In a win against Glades Day on Dec. 14, PECS received points from nine different players. Melaine Bonilla was the top scorer with seven points followed by Trueblood (6), Julian (5), Eriyana McQueen (5), Washington (4) and Dyani Kayda (4).

On the boys side, PECS fell behind 7-1 against Moore Haven in the first quarter, but rallied to keep the game close the rest of the way. Moore Haven led 20-19 entering the fourth quarter and pulled away for a 31-27 win.

Walt Fortner led PECS with 14 points. Gregory James had 10 points.

“We always start slow, but once they get into a rhythm and things start flowing there’s nothing these kids can’t do. I’m proud of the group of guys we have,” said Remy Fahad, who is in his first year coaching and serves as an assistant coach to head coach Preston Baker.

Despite the setback as PECS’ record slipped to 3-5, the coaches saw plenty of positive things from their team.

Walt Fortner (10) breaks away on his way to scoring against Moore Haven on Dec. 15, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

“It was a good game. Our boys fought hard. They definitely brought the energy tonight. It was a good test for them,” Fahad said.

He said the team has improved in several basic areas since the start of the season. He pointed to basketball knowledge, movement on the floor, rebounding and boxing out as some areas that the team has done better compared to the start of the season.

It’s a young group that includes some students who have never played before.

In a home game the previous night, Fortner (13 points) and James (eight points) led PECS in a win against Glades Day.

PECS boys and girls will host its conference tournament Jan. 14. The single-loss elimination format will be played at PECS’ gym and the Brighton Recreation Department gym.

PECS’ Charisma Micco (3) and Kulipa Julian (2) battle Moore Haven for a rebound on Dec. 15, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
Kevin Johnson PECS’ Jeremy Urbina (12) drives toward the basket against Moore Haven on Dec. 15, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
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