When the Orange Belt Conference (OBC) boys basketball tournament begins on Monday, the Harmony Longhorns (13-3) will be the top seed, but defending champion Osceola served notice on Tuesday night that they will not be giving up the title easily with a convincing 52-37 win over Gateway.

The win by the young Kowboys, Osceola’s sixth in their last 10 games, pushed them to 8-11 on the year and avenged a 64-63 loss to the Panthers two weeks earlier.  “We still have not played a complete game,” Kowboys coach Steve Mason said of his team that is starting three sophomores.  “But I like our chemistry and I like the fact that we are getting better every game and getting better every week.”

Osceola, which has played an extremely difficult schedule this year, will be the number two seed and will host #7 St. Cloud on Monday night in the first round.  Osceola will get an advanced look at the Bulldogs (7-9) when they face St. Cloud in a regular season game today (1/18).

Tuesday’s game started off slowly for the Kowboys as nine quick points by Gateway’s Victor Prada and five from Dashawn Williamson allowed the Panthers to build early leads of 7-2 and 16-11.  But Osceola rallied back and long three-point bomb by Jordan Mundle at the buzzer tied the game at 16-16 after one.

Both teams struggled to score in the second period, but Osceola got a three-pointer late in the period from Steven Bennett to take a 26-23 lead at intermission.  The third quarter belonged to Osceola and sophomore standout Alex Springs.  Hitting a variety of driving shots, Springs scored 13 of his game-high 22 points in the period as the Kowboys began to pull away 43-34.

“He (Springs) is going to be special,” Mason said.  “He has a unique ability to drive the lane and get his shot off at different angles while going full speed.  Alex is getting better and better every game.”  Mason also had praise for center Jamarion McCrimon who joined the team after the football season.  “Jamarion give us something we were lacking, a physical presence in the middle.  He is so tough and plays so hard in blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and taking charges.  He has been one of our most important players this year.”

Osceola only made one field goal in the fourth quarter, but hit seven of eight free throws and spent most of period keeping the ball away from the Panthers with long possessions.

Gateway (8-9) will enter next week’s tournament as the four seed and could be on a collision course for a third game with Osceola in the semifinals.  Still, Panther coach Travis James is not looking ahead, as Gateway will host #6 Poinciana on Monday but also has a regular season game with top-seeded Harmony this coming Thursday.  

“I thought we were flat tonight and did not play inspired basketball.  We simply were out-played and out-coached tonight,” James said.  “But we are taking nothing for granted and we certainly are not looking ahead to a possible rematch.  We have a great opportunity to build some momentum for OBC’s with the Harmony game but then we have to get ready for a talented Poinciana team before we even think about a rematch with Osceola.”

Other first round games on Monday include #1 Harmony hosting #8 Liberty and #5 Celebration traveling to #4 Tohopekaliga.  Winner will play on Tuesday in the semifinals, with the losers playing consolation placement game.  Tohopekaliga will host the 3rd place and championship games on Friday.  

Although the Kowboys would love to repeat as OBC Champions, Mason says the tournament is just another step in his team’s journey.  “We knew we were going to have a young team and they needed to grow up in a hurry.  It’s why we schedule the way we do, playing great teams like Centennial, Mainland, Olympia, Orlando Christian Prep and others.   Our goal is to just get better every day and every week so when the playoffs start, we will not be an easy out for anyone.”

OBC Boys Basketball

Monday, Jan. 23

  • Game 1:  #8 Liberty at #1 Harmony
  • Game 2: #7 St. Cloud at #2 Osceola
  • Game 3:  #6 Poinciana at #3 Gateway
  • Game 4: #5 Celebration at #4 Tohopekaliga

Tuesday Jan. 24 (Games at Higher Seed)

  • Game 5:  Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 4
  • Game 6:  Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3
  • Game 7: Loser 1 vs. Loser 4
  • Game 8: Loser 2 vs. Loser 3

Friday, Jan. 27 (at Higher Seed)

  • Game 9:  Loser Game 7 vs. Loser 8 (7th Place Game)
  • Game 10: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 (5th Place Game)

Friday, Jan. 27 (at Tohopekaliga High 5:30/7:30 p.m.)

  • Game 11:  Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6 (3rd Place Game)
  • Game 12:  Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 (Championship Game)

OBC Girls Basketball Tournament

Quarterfinal Results, Tuesday, Jan. 13

  • Poinciana 51, Osceola 42
  • St. Cloud   Celebration
  • Gateway 66, Liberty 11
  • Harmony 44 Tohopekaliga 33

Semifinals and Consolation Games, Wednesday, Jan. 14


  • Liberty at Osceola
  • Celebration at Tohopekaliga

SEMIFINALS, Wednesday Jan. 14

  • Harmony at St. Cloud
  • Poinciana at Gateway