BY ALYSSA KHAN AND JOSEPH STURGEON
Final Score: Cooper City 54, Pembroke Pines 69
For the Cowboys, Tuesday night’s boys’ varsity basketball game was an interesting one.
The game ended in a 69-54 loss for the Cowboys, giving the team a record of 5-8 for the season. The game was against Pembroke Pines Charter’s Jaguars—a top team in the state, and also the team that former standout Cowboys point guard, Dallas Graziani, transferred to for the 2019-20 school year.
The Cowboys won the tipoff to begin the game, but turned the ball over early, giving the Jaguars possession. Graziani scored the first two points for the Jaguars on an and-one layup. With the audience screaming and stomping in an attempt to throw his focus off, Graziani missed the free throw and cracked a small smile as he transitioned back to defense.
“I’m actually really excited to come back and play my old teammates,” Graziani said. “I know a lot of their strengths and weaknesses but I will mostly try to play my game and help my team win.”
“[We] executed the plays well, the shots just weren’t falling.”
The Cowboys’ defense was stellar in the first quarter, with two blocks by sophomore Elijah Wyche and junior Redio Risell. The first quarter ended close between the teams, with the score being 16-14 in favor of Cooper at the buzzer. Senior Itay Sadres ended the quarter with eight points.
Once the second quarter began, the Cowboys’ offense slowed to a halt. The opposing Jaguars went on a 10-4 run to start off the quarter, including four early points scored by Graziani and a dunk by senior Amarachi Ujagbor. Late in the second quarter, Wyche was fouled on a layup attempt. He made one free throw and missed the other. Wyche then got a block on the defensive end, which was followed by a jump shot scored by senior Billy Brennan. The score at the end of the half was 36-23 in the Jaguars’ favor.
“We played decent,” Cowboys senior Kareem Mubarak said. “[We] executed the plays well, the shots just weren’t falling. Overall, [it] was a good game, though.”
“As [a] team we could have played better defense all-around.”
The third quarter was played evenly by both teams with the Jaguars putting up 20 points and the Cowboys scoring 19 points. Sophomore Nathan Hickman hit two 3-pointers at the beginning of the quarter. The Jaguars’ responded back with back-to-back scoring on possessions by senior Osei Price and Graziani. After Sadres made a 3-point basket, Graziani made two free throws on the other end. This quarter was led by Hickman with nine points, and Brennan and Sadres with five each. The quarter ended with a score of 56-42, Jaguars up.
Going into the game, the Cowboys felt some nerves playing against such a strong team. They used their knowledge of their opponents’ skills to their advantage and played their best.
“We knew Dallas would try to shoot from far, so we would play high up the court and we ended up limiting him to a couple [of] points,” Hickman said. “As [a] team we could have played better defense all-around.”
The fourth quarter was a slow one for each team, as the Cowboys scored 11 points and the Jaguars scored 13 points. Coach Christopher Allen called strategic timeouts in an effort to make a comeback. In the end, the Cowboys were outhustled by the Jaguars with many fast breaks to close out the game. The Jaguars’ top scorer, Price, ended the game with 29 points—outscoring the Cowboys’ top scorer, Sadres, by 13 points. The game ended with the Cowboys losing with a score of 69-54.
Photo by Anabella Garcia