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PECS girls basketball ends year on high note

Julia Smith soars above the court to win the opening tip for PECS against Osceola Middle School. Julia scored a game-high 18 points.
Julia Smith soars above the court to win the opening tip for PECS against Osceola Middle School. Julia scored a game-high 18 points.

BRIGHTON — The only two eighth-graders on the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School’s girls basketball team will be tough to replace.

Julia Smith and Luzana Venzor finished their middle school careers in style Jan. 20 by leading PECS past Moore Haven, 46-7. Julia, the team’s leading scorer throughout the season, scored a game-high 26 points and Luzana added 10 points.

“We had another successful season finishing the year with a 7-5 record,” PECS coach Tim Thomas said.

The victory in Moore Haven came on the heels of the team’s annual eighth-grade parent night Jan. 19 when Julia, Luzana and their families were recognized in a brief pregame ceremony before PECS cruised past Osceola Middle School, 37-14.

Julia made sure her final home game would be memorable. In the first half alone, she won the opening tip, scored six points, made five steals and picked up three fouls, including a technical. She set the early tone on defense by not allowing Osceola guards room to breathe, a style that Thomas likes to see from all his players.

“The whole team is very aggressive,” Thomas said. “I teach them to be aggressive and to get turnovers, so we can get some easy points. That way we can get a lead and we can relax later on.”

Julia’s glasses were knocked to the floor in the fourth quarter, but that didn’t stop her from scoring points. She finished with 18 points in front of more than 100 spectators in a packed gymnasium, a sight that didn’t go unnoticed.

“Playing basketball with my friends, that’s what I’m going to miss, and just playing for the crowd and making shots and hearing them cheer for you,” Julia said. “It’s really nice hearing them cheer for you.”

Julia said she will probably attend Moore Haven High School. Luzana said she will likely head to Okeechobee High School, where her brother Demetrius Clark is a standout on the boys basketball team.

Luzana echoed Julia’s sentiments about missing her teammates.

“My favorite part was getting with my girls, practicing, teaching them what they need and some of them telling me what I need,” she said.

A few minutes into the home finale Luzana was accidentally struck in the face by a defender. Luzana quickly shrugged off the contact and moments later scored on a driving layup. She finished with five points.

As for the team’s younger players, Caylie Huff led the way with nine points, which included a 3-pointer to start the game. Haylie Huff had four points. Strong defense from Karey Gopher, Kayln Hammil, LaShae King and Elle Thomas was one reason why Osceola was held to just 14 points.

Even though next year’s team will have to replace its two captains, Julia expects the squad will be fine.

“I think they’re going to be pretty good without me and Lu,” Julia 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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