The Osceola hardwood legacy continues.
On Friday at Gateway, it took on a life of its own.
With victory secured early in the District 9A-7 championship game over George Jenkins — the Kowboys romped to a 29-4 lead five minutes into it — the intrigue late in the game became if OHS would “flip the scoreboard” and score 100 points.
The score was 44-31 at halftime, 76-51 after three quarters and 99-59 with 1:19 left and the clock continuously running. But Osceola second-teamers could convert on two attempts to hit triple digits and the Kowboys “settled” for a 99-61 win and their sixth consecutive district title.
Osceola (19-7) will begin another regional playoff run Thursday, hosting District 9A-8 runner-up Martin County (15-11) at 7 p.m.
Players said Friday’s big win was less about winning one game than continuing an Osceola tradition of postseason appearances and wins … and a little about atoning for a 21-point loss at Jenkins in the regular season.
“They lit us up down there, from the tip to the end of the game,” OHS Coach Nate Alexander said. “My guys, they remember that stuff like elephants and took it personal.”
Something was taken personal. Osceola led 16-2 four minutes into the game and 29-4 five minutes in, but the Eagles pieced together a 25-10 run over the next eight minutes of game to pull within 10, 39-29.
Osceola came out of the locker room from halftime and gunned it. Jeremiah Palermo came off the bench to hit a back-to-back three pointers that spurred a 16-4 run to start the third quarter.
The output came from everyone and everywhere — the Kowboys hit 13 three-pointers, every starter scored in double digits and the bench accounted for 26 points.
Point guard Josh Marte scored 14 points and dished six assists. He was part of Osceola’s 2017 Class 9A title run as a sophomore, so that outlines the team’s goals — getting to the state tournament in Lakeland and winning it.
“We’re just trying to make the run happen one by one, we’re all-in together,” he said. “This was a big team win. Nobody wants to be on the team that ends the districts streak. But for me it’s no added pressure, I’ve gotten used to it.”
Center Diwun Black nearly had a double-double at halftime and finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds. Isaiah (13 points) and Jeremiah (10) Palermo were in on the act, as were Armani Thomas (14) and Jaduhkiss Soto (16), who played his first two years at Gateway and had another big game in the Panther gym.
“We’ve been finding our consistency and really gotten closer,” the senior swingman said of a 10-game winning streak the Kowboys are now on. “Winning these is the tradition, but I need a state championship. That’s the goal here, for all of us.”
Alexander said his team looks mentally prepared, and the toughness may have been part of Friday’s breakout victory.
“You see in practice, the added focus is there now. Guys like Marte, he’s got probably over 1,000 points in his career, who said he doesn’t care if he has two points, four points, as long as we win,” he said.
So, the Kowboys have him feeling good going into tonight?
“Feeling good going into (Saturday’s practice the day after the win),” Alexander said right after Friday’s win. “We go one day at a time.”
With a win tonight, Kowboys would draw the winner of tonight’s Vero Beach-Jenkins game in the Region 2 semifinal Feb. 26.