OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee High School Brahman varsity basketball team kicked off 2020 the same way they ended 2019, by winning big games.
Brahman coach Demetre Riles secured his 100th career win and the Brahmans have now won 12 back-to-back games.
The Brahmans got their coach his 100th win by beating Fort Pierce Central 62-45 on Jan. 8. Senior Malcolm Kelly led the team in scoring with 14 points followed by De’nitrik Whittaker who had 12. Malcolm also led the team in assists with seven.
Following that win, Okeechobee had a rematch with the lone team to defeat them this year, the Treasure Coast Titans.
The Titans defeated the Brahmans 55-50 on Dec. 3, the first game of the regular season for both teams.
Okeechobee’s defensive play in that first game wasn’t consistent enough to get the win, but throughout the rest of the season that side of the ball has become a strength for the Brahmans.
After the loss Okeechobee went on to win 11 straight games, while Treasure Coast stumbled out to a 7-6 record. So despite how the season started, it was clear these were now two teams headed in very different directions.
The Okeechobee defense, a liability in the first match-up, turned into a strength in the second. The Brahmans completely dominated the Titans in Okeechobee on Jan. 10, winning 50-20.
The Titan offense was kept in the single digits in every quarter by a tenacious and energetic Okeechobee defense. By halftime the Brahmans were leading 19-8, and even that lead felt insurmountable for the Titans.
Junior Alessio Dehart led the team in scoring with 13 points followed by De’nitrik Whittaker with 11. Malcolm Kelly led with 12 rebounds and played a huge role in helping set up his teammates for successes. Often Malcolm would come down with the offensive rebound, circle out to the perimeter and hit a teammate, usually Dehart, under the basket for an easy layup.
The energy level the Brahmans played with on the court was infectious, and brought the capacity crowd at OHS to their feet multiple times throughout the night.
Up next the Brahmans have a district foe coming to town. The Port St. Lucie Jaguars are currently 6-8 but have the number two seed in Okeechobee’s district. The game could be a preview of this year’s district championship, which Okeechobee is looking to win back-to-back for the first time in school history. Jensen Beach, who the Brahmans defeated last year in the district championship, appeared to have taken a step back this year and currently have a 6-10 record. Okeechobee and Jensen Beach will face each other on Jan. 31.
The Brahmans host Port St. Lucie at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17.