OKEECHOBEE — The Osceola Middle School Warriors boys basketball team lost by a score of 27-22 after a hard-fought battle with the Gifford Middle School Dolphins on Dec. 5 in Okeechobee.
The Gifford team had a significant height advantage over the Warriors, which made grabbing rebounds and putting up shots difficult for the OMS team.
Still, even with that disadvantage, the Warriors were able to jump out to an early lead against the Dolphins. As the two teams headed into the locker room for halftime Osceola lead Gifford 14-7.
But the Dolphins put together a rally in the third quarter to tie the game at 19-19.
The Osceola defense forced some turnovers in the second half, but the Warriors struggled to convert those turnovers into points. That let Gifford slowly work their way back into the game, ultimately taking the lead in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors still had plenty of fight in them, and were able to pull within one point of the Dolphins when Osceola’s Jah’niyus Smith hit a clutch three-pointer with 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter,
That three-pointer would be Osceola’s last points of the game, however. The Dolphins added a few more buckets to put the game out of reach and secure the victory over the Warriors.
The loss was Osceola’s first of the year and dropped them to 2-1.
“I think at first we got a little bit intimidated by their size,” said OMS coach Justin Perman. “But then we realized we could stick with them. It looked like we tired out towards the end, and I think we really beat ourselves. We put ourselves in situations we just couldn’t overcome. We have to do a much better job at free throws and finishing around the hoop. I think we can hang with anybody, though. It was a close game. I’ll take a close, competitive game any time.”
Up next Osceola is scheduled to host Storm Grove Middle School on Dec. 12. The Lady Warriors tip off at 4:30 p.m. with the boys scheduled to take the court at 5:45 p.m.