Although the coronavirus continues to frustrate local high school coaches and athletes, winter sports are in full swing at Osceola County high schools as we approach the New Year.
Wrestling, boys’ and girls’ basketball and boys and girls soccer are all being contested, with several holiday tournaments taking place.
Here’s a look at the county’s top teams and performers:
Behind the offensive prowess of Christian Aragon and Jesus Ramirez, the Osceola Kowboys have outscored opposition 31-3, and are off to a 6-0-0 start this season.
St. Cloud, who made a deep run in the playoffs last season, is 3-2-0 this season as senior forward Fabrizio Lucia leads the Bulldogs in scoring with six goals.
The Celebration Storm, a long-time state power, is also undefeated in the early going, recording a 6-0-3 record. Nicola Romano leads the Storm with six goals, while junior goalkeeper Nicolas Arce is 4-0 and has posted three shutouts.
Poinciana is 6-5-1 this season with junior Marlon Escobar leading the Eagle attack with five goals.
After going 12-15-1 in the first two years of the school’s existence, Tohopekaliga is off to a great start this season with a 5-0- 1 record. Mackenzie Baylis has been a main cog in the Lady Tigers attack, scoring 12 goals.
Including an early 2-0 win over county rival Celebration, Harmony is off to a 4-2-1 start and has been undefeated against county opposition, posting a 2-0-1 record. Sophomore Erin Ozyurek has posted six goals this season for the Storm, who are 4-6-1 this season.
After a slow start, St. Cloud has won three of their last four and will take a 3-4- 4 mark into the New Year.
First year Head Coach Steve Perez has guided Osceola to a 3-3 record this season while playing a tough early schedule. The Kowboys have lost to state power Oakridge, Windermere and Kathleen – a trio of teams that have a combined 20-4 record this season. Gateway took a 3-0 record into this week’s action, where they played Mandarin (Jacksonville) and Bishop Kenny in the prestigious Father Lopez Shootout. Behind Tyrell Frederick’s 16.7 points per game, St. Cloud first year Head Coach Brad Weber has the Bulldogs off to a 5-4 start.
Harmony is 2-3 and had been led in the early going by Christian Acosta’s 8.7 points per game. Although just 1-4, Liberty has been getting 16.5 points per game from junior Francisco Diaz.
City of Life has won 11 straight games to start its season.
Justin Marino’s Gateway team continued its hot start, going 7-0 in December. The Lady Panthers closest game to date was a 16-point win over Central Florida Christian Academy and they have had an average margin of victory this season of 26 points this season.
Losing only to a pair of Class 7A schools in Spruce Creek and Lake Mary (Combined 14-4), City of Life Christian Academy (Class 2A) is 4-2 on the season and is led by freshman Camila De pool-maisonet’s 14 points per game.
Harmony is 4-1 this season behind Carlee Fitzgerald’s 11.3 points per game.
Chad Ansbaugh’s Lady Bulldogs hosted the Jim Clark Tournament this week. St. Cloud took a 6-4 mark into the event, led by seniors Eno Inyang (19 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and Angie Rodriguez (10.8 ppg). Dion Byrum’s team is allowing just 37 points a game as his Lady Kowboys team is off to a 5-4 start this season.
Ivanis Pimentel has averaged 12.3 points per game for Poinciana (3-3).
Twenty teams competed in three different brackets (Gold, White, Blue) at the Danny Byron Invitational at Osceola High School on Dec. 11. Osceola had five champions in the White Bracket, including Anderson Heap (106), Cooper Haase (120), Jaekus Hines (138), Gunner Holland (145) and Antonio Romero (182).
Celebration also competed in the White Division, getting a firstplace finish from Eriknaldo Gonzalez (285), and a second from Kyler Peraza (113). Poinciana and Gateway also fielded teams in the event. Head Coach Jim Bird’s team hosted 30 teams from three states at the prestigious Knockout Christmas Classic last Monday and Tuesday (results in next week’s paper).
Harmony finished second in Bulldog Classic at St. Cloud High School on Dec. 13-14. Vic Lorenzano’s team breezed through the opening day of competition, defeating Cypress Creek (70-12), Apopka (66-13) and Plant City (71-12). They completed pool play with an easy win over Wakula (54- 15), before defeating district rival and fifth ranked Winter Springs in the pool finale by a 46-25 count.
In the tournament semifinals, they eased by St. Cloud, 54-19, to advance to the championship match. In the finals, the Longhorns were no match for powerhouse Palm Bay – dropping a 61-12 decision. Aiden Poe (120) and JC McNichols (132), each went 7-0 for the tournament.