OKEECHOBEE- The Okeechobee High School Lady Brahman varsity basketball team’s remarkable season came to an end on Feb. 18 in the regional final.
Okeechobee fell to the defending state champion American Heritage Lady Patriots 72-36. The game marked the Lady Brahmans first ever visit to the regional final in the program’s history.
The Lady Brahman basketball team has been on a remarkable run throughout the last four years. In 2018 Jovanny Torres took over as head coach for the varsity team and looked to turnaround a girls basketball program in Okeechobee that hadn’t been a true threat in the playoffs for over 30 years. Joining the team that season was a young, but talented freshman class that would go on to play a crucial role in making that turnround a reality.
The Lady Brahmans only went on to win seven games in the 2018-19 season. But throughout the year the team showed flashes of the eventual powerhouse that they’d become. Early on in the season, a young freshman named Adryauna Baker turned heads with a near quadruple double performance against Port St. Lucie, with 6 points, 19 steals, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocks.
The team also pulled off a comeback victory over rival South Fork in their district quarterfinal match-up that year. But after falling to Heritage Lady Panthers in the district semifinal, the young team set a goal to get to the district championship.
In 2019-20 the Lady Brahmans finished with a 20-7 record and entered the playoffs ranked second in their district. They accomplished their goal of getting to the district championship, but fell to Jensen Beach in that game 57-54.
The next season, in a year plagued with interruptions due to COVID-19, the Lady Brahmans not only returned to the district championship, but dominated the game. Okeechobee beat Fort Pierce Westwood 50-13 to claim their championship.
Then this year, Okeechobee managed to pull off a repeat, earning back-to-back district championships with a 47-36 win over Rockledge. They followed that performance up with a dramatic overtime win in the regional semifinal over the Norland Lady Vikings to advance to their first ever regional final, only one game away from the state tournament.
“This journey has been amazing to be a part of,” said Torres while reflecting on the season. “They bought into everything I told them and are reaping all the benefits they so rightfully earned. When I took over the first year we only won seven games. We had talent but they were very young and didn’t understand the team concept yet. At the end of that season I told them that if they worked hard over the spring for travel ball and attend team camps over the summer we would grow as team and they did just that.”
With the loss in the regional final, a number of those original freshman that joined the team in 2018 have now played their last game for the Lady Brahmans. Including Baker, Morgan Tucker, and Jasmine Shanks.
“It’s going to be difficult making that lineup without those seniors next year,” said Torres. “They were a tremendous part of this team’s success. No way this program gets where it is without those girls. They set the tone and made my job so much easier. I’m excited to see what the future has planned for those young ladies and I’ve already told them they will forever have a special place in my heart.”