OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee High School Lady Brahman varsity basketball team is looking to make another run to the playoffs this year. Many of the key players from last year’s squad are back again with a little more experience under their belt this time.
One of the leaders from last year’s team was Alkeecia Clayton. In 2018 Clayton was one of the only upperclassmen on a young team filled with freshmen and sophomores, making her the de facto leader of the Lady Brahmans as the underclassmen gained experience throughout the year. Clayton filled that role well, sometimes acting as an on-court coach for the Lady Brahmans.
Now in her senior season, Alkeecia has already had a big impact in the early games of the 2019 season.
On Nov. 21, Okeechobee beat the lake-area rival Clewiston Lady Tigers, 51-39. In that game, Clayton lead the team with 16 points against the Lady Tigers.
Another standout from the 2018 season was then freshman Adryauna Baker. Making the varsity as freshman is an accomplishment in and of itself, but Baker was also able to put up some eye-catching numbers for the Lady Brahmans. In an early game against Port St. Lucie, Baker had a final stat line of 16 points, 19 steals, nine rebounds, eight assists and two blocks. If Baker had been able to grab one more rebound and two more assists, she would have had a quadruple double, which is when a player has a double-digit number total in four of the five categories in a game.
The performance impressed Okeechobee coach Jovanny Torres.
“It is pretty rare for a freshman to come out the gate with a game like that,” Torres said. “To be honest in my five years of coaching at the high school, I’ve never even seen an upperclassmen with a stat line like that. I knew coming into the season she would be a starter. Even though she was a freshman, she was one of the best scorers we had. She handles the ball very well and is extremely confident. I knew the offensive firepower was there but she definitely surprised me on the defensive end.”
That defensive prowess has continued into 2019. Against Clewiston on Nov. 21, Baker led the team with eight rebounds and three steals.
Some more freshmen will be joining the squad again this year. But thanks to the travel basketball program Chobee Nation, many already have experience playing in coach Torres’ system.
On July 7 this year, the Chobee Nation girls eighth grade team competed in the 2019 USSSA National Basketball Tournament in Kissimmee and were able to bring home the championship.
Freshmen Leta Adamo and Semaj Jasper were in Kissimmee with coach Torres helping Chobee Nation bring home that championship trophy and they’ll also be on the Lady Brahman varsity squad this year.
Next up for the Lady Brahmans is a home game against the Jupiter Lady Warriors on Dec. 2. Jupiter is coming off an impressive 18-9 season last year and should prove to be an early test for the 2019 Lady Brahmans.
Okeechobee and Jupiter tip-off at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 at Okeechobee High School.