OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee High School Brahman varsity basketball team will open its 2020 season at home against the Moore Haven Terriers on Dec. 1.
The Brahmans will be defending their back-to-back district championship titles as they take the court this season.
In 2018-19, Okeechobee won its first district basketball championship in 28 years over the Jensen Beach Falcons, who had long been a thorn in the Brahmans’A side.
It was an emotional and cathartic victory for the Brahmans, in more ways than one. Off the court that season, head coach Demetre Riles was dealing with loss of his wife after a long battle with cancer. Riles stepped away from the team a few weeks before his wife’s passing, and OHS Athletics Director Kenny Buckner took over coaching duties.
Riles wasn’t sure whether he’d be returning to the team. But his players persuaded him to come back. After his return, the team went on nine-game winning streak all the way to the district championship, finishing with a 23-5 record.
The following season, believe it or not, the Brahmans were even better.
Led by seniors Malcolm Kelly, Markeze Kelly and Mikal Kelly, Okeechobee won 26 games and only lost three. In the process not only did they repeat as district champions, but the Brahmans advanced all the way to the regional final — one game away from the state championship.
The Brahmans will host two other homes games in December before the Christmas break besides the Terriers. Okeechobee hosts another Lake Okeechobee region school, Clewiston High, on Dec. 15. Before that game, they’ll host Westwood on Dec. 4.
In January 2021, Okeechobee will play four home games and four away games. The Brahmans will host Sebastian River on Jan. 8, John Carroll on Jan. 19 and Jensen Beach on Jan. 29. They’ll be on the road to face Port St. Lucie on Jan. 7, Westwood on Jan. 12, Moore Haven on Jan. 14 and Clewiston on Jan. 23.