Charter Basketball Leaves Lakeland with a Chip

Adam Abougendia, STAFF WRITER

 As time ticked down on March 6th, the Pines Charter Jaguars basketball team was in position to win their first Florida 5A state championship. The clock hit zero in Lakeland Florida, and the Jaguars had done it, the state title was coming home to South Florida for the first time in the school’s history. 

  This year’s squad was very impressive throughout the playoffs. After winning districts and regionals, Charter faced a tough Jesuit team from Tampa in the state semifinal game in which they defeated Jesuit 63-57 in an overtime thriller behind Elijah Wyche’s 24 points and Kolby King’s 14. Breakout sophomore Brandon Armentaros expressed, “The feeling after beating Jesuit  in the state semis was amazing. The team and I knew that we couldn’t get too excited because we still had one more game to get to what we really wanted.” That goal was the state title that they were working so hard to get after last year’s defeat in the state final to Rickards High from Tallahassee. Avenging that loss was their main goal throughout the season. 

  Saturday the 6th came around and it was time for Charter to go to war with Choctawhatchee High from Fort Walton Beach for the 5A state championship. Choctawhatchee had a record of 26-2 going into Saturday but later that afternoon, an extra loss would be tallied up for the team from Fort Walton. Hundreds were in attendance in Lakeland to support Pines Charter in their efforts to claim the state throne. The Jaguars came out firing outscoring the Indians 23-9 in the first quarter. Despite a slow second quarter, Charter came out after halftime with enough firepower to hang on to their lead throughout the third and fourth quarter to win the state championship for Pines Charter. 

  Charter was led by stellar performances by juniors Kolby King, Caelum Ethridge, Geoff Sprouse, and Elijah Wyche. Wyche, who played a key role in the success Charter had this year explained, “It’s crazy because ever since my freshman year it’s been a goal of mine to get a state championship under my belt and to finally do it just feels unreal. Our squad was too talented and we got it done.” 

  As the most successful season in school history ends, it’s now time for the younger generation of Jaguars to step up and live up to the expectations left by the team who left on top. It was a phenomenal season for the 5A Florida state champions, our very own Pembroke Pines Charter Jaguars.