As the saying goes, “Man plans; God laughs”. That certainly was the feeling being stuck in a seven mile backup on Florida’s Turnpike for an hour trying to head to Okeechobee for their region final against Pembroke Pines Charter. Once we finally reached our destination, we found a near full parking lot and a gym somewhere between Standing Room Only and Have to Sit on a Friend’s Shoulders to watch the event.
Once we got our act together, there was 3:17 left in the second quarter with Okeechobee up 25-22. A couple of minutes later, Pines Charter tied the game after a series of free throws at twenty-five. When half-time rolled around, Charter had a one-point, 28-27 lead.
Pines charter scored the first five points of the third quarter with senior guard Dallas Graziani accounting for all five. This put the Jaguars up 33-27, forcing an Okeechobee timeout with just over a minute gone by in the period. Malcolm Kelley got Okeechobee back on the board with a mid-range jumper but Graziani more than nullified that with another three. Mikel Kelley hit a three for Okeechobee to cut the deficit to four at 36-32, but a pair of threes from Graziani and a steal and score by Javen-Flowers Smith pushed Charter’s lead to double digits at 44-32. De’andrick Whittaker scored in transition to get Okeechobee back on the board, which was answered by Charter’s Osei Price with a driving score. Another bucket from Mikel Kelly got the margin down to ten but Graziani then hit his fifth three pointer of the quarter to give Pines Charter its largest lead at thirteen, 49-36. The Brahmans finished the third period with a 6-0 run to make the score 49-42 in favor of Pines Charter going into the final period.
After a three point play for each team to open the quarter, Smith and Amari Ujabgor scored for Pines Charter to push the Jaguar lead back to double-digits. Malcolm Kelley of Okeechobee hit two free throws after being fouled in transition but Price answered that with a three point play for Charter. Jemoi Davis scored inside to cut the deficit to ten but a three from Geoffrey Sprouse made it a thirteen point game, 62-49 with four minutes left in the contest. Okeechobee then put together a 6-1 run to get back to within eight at 63-55, but now Pines Charter was in the bonus under two minutes to play. That was as close as Okeechobee would get as Pines Charter finished out the contest with a 9-0 run, five from the foul line, to advance to the semi-finals in Lakeland by the score of 72-55.
Pines Charter was led by Graziani with 31 points. Sprouse added 16 while Price finished with 11 points.
For Okeechobee, Mikel Kelley led the way with 14 points and brother Marquis contributed 11 points.