OKEECHOBEE — Demetri Riles is not short of confidence.
After a 6-18 season, the Brahman boys basketball coach expects much better results this year.
Why shouldn’t he?
The team has talent, height, some new additions, a year of hard work, and offseason travel ball to build upon.
Last year Okeechobee emphasized defense and the plan worked as Okeechobee nearly broke a high school record for allowing the fewest points per game, about 46 per game.
He lost three seniors and one starter to graduation but has four returning starters this year. They include Lashawn Mosley at forward, Antywyn ‘Bubba’ Fludd at point guard, Demetrius Clark at shooting guard, and Fred Bradley at center. All of these players, besides Fludd, stand 6’3” or taller.
Add to the mix transfer student Shaquouy Ferrol, a 6’3” all-around player who will fill in where needed.
Other players to watch include freshman center, Evan Neal, 6’6”, Kysell Richardson, Andravious Stallworth, Mateo Vasquez and Abdiel Zamora. The plan is to have 12 players on the varsity squad.
“We should win 18-20 games. Defense will always be first, but I feel we have more options on offense this year. We hope to create turnovers and score off the fast break,” he added.
Joseph Benjamin should provide a boost should he return from an ankle injury later in the season.
Some additional players from the football team are expected to try out.
Okeechobee will have a lot of unknowns in district play this year. Opponents include Sebastian River and South Fork from the Treasure Coast and Brevard County schools Heritage, Bayside and Eau Gallie.
Riles added a number of familiar schools to the home court schedule this season, that includes Clewiston on Nov. 17, Pahokee on Nov. 20, DeSoto County on Dec. 8, and Hardee High on Jan. 22. The season will begin on Nov. 12-13 with a preseason tournament at Okeechobee High School. Other teams invited include Clewiston, Lake Placid and Moore Haven.
The program will have a freshman and junior varsity programs. Raymond Collins will be the primary assistant coach this year.
Key freshmen to watch include Robert Futch and Mark Youmans. Junior Juanyae Ford is another talented player to watch.
Charles M. Murphy is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News