New Beginnings

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Sereena Feeney

More stories from Sereena Feeney

There are no words to truly describe the moments that take place in any basketball game. Yes, you could say, “he jabbed left, and drove middle for a layup” or “he pulled up for a three pointer.”

But it’s almost like trying to explain a painting through text.

You can compare it to something, but you can’t recreate what you felt in that moment. The anxiety while watching the clock run down, the adrenaline when you see a key player pull up for a shot, the anger when the referee makes a bad call, and so much more.

What happens out on that court is indescribable.

Something that can be put into words is the ODA men’s varsity basketball team. Actually one word: champions.

What other word could describe the number one seed in the district? Or number three in the region? Let’s not forget that they’re ranked ninth in the state of Florida. Yes, you read that correctly… ninth. ODA’s team is at the peak of their season, with a record of 15-3 while currently holding a winning streak of nine games. However, success comes with its challenges.

At the start of the season, the team was only made up of seven players: Andrew Berg, Amad Brayboy, Michael Gosnell, Chase Maasdorp, Nathan Patrick, Joshua Raimon, and Kolbie Ward. Unfortunately, Josh Raimon suffered a hand injury at the start of the season and couldn’t play. Losing Josh meant the team had only one sub per game.

If you know anything about basketball, it’s a continuous fast paced game that really only stops in cases of timeouts or fouls, and even that is limited. The goal is to keep momentum going, and you can only do that by keeping your players in good condition. So as a coach you want at least a second lineup that can sub in for the starters.

One of the challenges in having a small team is enduring this intensely physical game. ODA players often were simply tired. Coach Liberty would have to use their timeouts just to give the boys a break, which put him in bad situations later in the game when he really needed those timeouts.

To solve this problem, their coach decided to bring up younger boys to play with the varsity team. These players included freshman Myles Gilbert and J.J Easto and eighth grader, Tyler Beasley. These additional athletes brought a lot to the table in allowing the team to grow, but they still faced some big challenges. Among them: selfishness.

“When we were down in a game, and becoming frustrated some of us would begin to play a one man kind of game instead of as a team. We would take all the shots, drive every time, make stupid fouls,” said Senior Amad Brayboy.

“We knew what we wanted, and in order to do that we needed to play as one. Something just snapped in our heads and our ball movement improved greatly. We became patient and it helped us in the long run,” add Senior Andrew Berg.

The team decided together that they wanted to break the stereotypes of the ODA athletics program. They wanted to show everyone they weren’t some team people could walk over. They wanted to make a name for themselves, and reach their goal of being district champions.

“The team consist of four seniors and three juniors. They’ve matured over these past couple years. They came in this season knowing what they wanted, and that was to win,” says Coach Liberty.

Win is what they did.

After beating BCS, the number one seed at the time, they have continued to shine. Only becoming closer and closer to their goal.

Want to see some of the action yourself? Will they become the next district champions? Come out Thursday, February 2, at 7 p.m. to watch as ODA boys varsity basketball team closes their amazing season against Canterbury St. Pete before districts.

Cheer on your seniors Andrew Berg, Amad Brayboy, Nathan Patrick, and Kolbie Ward as they play their last home basketball game of their high school careers.

Experience the indescribable and be a part of something special, as this team tries to achieve something that hasn’t been done since 2004.