By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
It was an impressive week for several county teams as Osceola’s boys’ basketball team won a pair of games against ranked teams; while both the Celebration and St. Cloud girls weightlifting teams walked away with district titles.
A look around the county:
Three days after upsetting Windermere, the Osceola Kowboys came up with its second win in four days against a ranked team by taking down 11th ranked Oviedo, 59-57, at the Kalyn High Master’s Classic at The Masters Academy on Saturday afternoon.
As has been the case all season, brothers Sean and Chris Combs led the way to the win by combining for 32 points. Chris, a senior, scored 20 points and Sean had 12 – all on three-pointers beyond the arc. “They have played together for a long time,” Coach Steve Mason said. “They work really well together.” The score was tied knotted at 57-57 before Chris Rios hit a driving layup which proved to be the game-winner.
Osceola, 15-4, has now won six in a row and will host Gateway on Friday as it continues to make a case for a high district seed.
Gateway (15-5) has won nine of its last 10, including a 62-52 win over Tohopekaliga on Thursday night but will face a huge test tonight (Monday) when it travels to Rockledge to face the Raiders, who are 15-1 this season. With a 41-24 win over Freedom on Friday night, Harmony pushed its record to 12-7 on the season.
After taking control of the Orange Belt Conference girls’ basketball race with a win over Gateway on Jan. 11, the Lady Bulldogs continued its hot play with three more games last week to push its record to 15-6. St. Cloud beat University, Osceola, and Heritage, with the Osceola win bringing them to within one game of winning the OBC Championship outright. St. Cloud coach Chad Ansbaugh’s four top scorers are all sophomores.
Following a 77-44 win over Orlando Christian Prep, Gateway is 16-6 on the season and will face challenges this week with regular season-ending road games against Rockledge (11-6) and Lake Mary (11-10).
Both St. Cloud and Celebration captured district weight lifting championships on Saturday with 84 points. The Lady Bulldogs got first place finishes from Ashley Aun (101), Abby Davis (110), Layla Lara (110), Javani Robinson (129), and Kiley Holland (154) in winning the district crown. All five automatically qualify for regional play next weekend. Osceola, which finished second with 52 points, advances three automatic qualifiers as Kaitlyn Walters (169), Akyhia Williams (183) and Alysha DeJesus (199) won titles. Harmony’s Adriana DeJesus, a favorite to win the 139-lb. weight class at states, easily won the 139-weight class. The nine champions from Osceola County in the bench/clean and jerk competition also won their respective snatch competitions, with St. Cloud (70) winning the team competition, with Harmony (56) placing second.
Celebration coach Cliff Branch said he was he “was incredibly proud” of the efforts of his team as the Storm captured the school’s first-ever district title besting five other teams to win the Class 3A, District 10 championship at Winter Haven High on Saturday. Alessandra Diaz (101), Maria Victoria Gonalez (110), Helena Huyke (119), Fabrianna Millian (154), and Indiana Ramos (199) all won titles for Celebration and gained automatic berths to regionals.
Automatic and at-large qualifiers from Celebration, Osceola, Harmony, Tohopekaliga, and St. Cloud will be in action in the Class 3A, Region 3 Championship Meet this Saturday (Jan. 29). The meet is being hosted by St. Cloud beginning at 12 noon.
Celebration (9-0-4) capped an undefeated regular season with a thrilling 2-1 road win over an outstanding Timber Creek (10-3-3) team on Friday. The Storm will now wait to see if they did enough to capture the top seed in the Class 7A, District 5 Championships that begin later this week. The top-seeded team will receive a first-round bye.
St. Cloud finished its regular season with a 2-2 draw with Lake Wales. The Bulldogs (8-4-3 overall) finished on a high note by going 8-1-2 in its final 11 matches. Harmony (10-5-2) has won two straight and will look to build some momentum heading into the post-season with a season-finale match with Liberty (2-13) on Monday.
Tohopekaliga (7-6-2), Osceola (3-10), Poinciana (5-9-2), and Gateway (5-4-3) have concluded their regular seasons and will participate in district tournaments this weekend.
OBC Champion Harmony moved to 8-5-1 on the season with an 8-0 win over Osceola and joins Gateway (8-2-2) as the two local teams with the best chance to advance out of district play this week. Harmony will play in the Class 6A, District 7 Tournament this week; while Gateway will play in the Class 5A, District 7 tournament.
All eight county teams will be in district tournament play starting Thursday. Final regular-season records include St. Cloud (3-9-0), Tohopekaliga (5-9-1), Osceola (2-14-2), Liberty (1-11-1), and Poinciana (5-9-2).