January 17, 2024

Umatilla High School Girls Basketball Team Having Best Season In School History

4.1 min read| Published On: January 17th, 2024|

By Kyle Coppola

Umatilla High School Girls Basketball Team Having Best Season In School History

4.1 min read| Published On: January 17th, 2024|

The Umatilla Girls Basketball team is having the best season in school history. The Lady Bulldogs success is attributed to so many factors, from second-year coach Cameron Ware to a great group of girls who have bought into the program, and a faculty that has emphasized the importance of athletics the past couple of years.

The Lady Bulldogs are led by sophomore #11 Herva Brutus who is averaging 15 points per game. Herva is an absolute unit on the court and she has the statistics to back up her play. She gets help from seniors #3 Emalee Duncan who is averaging 10 points per game and #2 Lauren Archer who is averaging around 8 points per game. Herva is the #1 player in Class 4A District 6 in blocks, double double’s, rebounds, and steals. She is ranked #7 in the state of Florida for steals so she is a sound defensive player and gets it done on both ends of the floor.

(Herva Brutus #11 is one of the best players in Lake County. She is only a sophomore but is having the greatest seasons in Umatilla girls program history by an individual player.)

For the first time at Umatilla high school, the senior athletes they finally have some stability within the Umatilla program.  Head coach Cameron Ware is back for his second season as the Umatilla Lady Bulldogs coach after the Lady Bulldogs went through four different coaches in the past five seasons. “It’s been great to be a part of the transformation of Umatilla athletics. The kids are the ones pioneering the change. Winning is infectious and the more the kids buy into what we are teaching, the more they spread that around the school and the community. I give all the credit to the kids, they have been relentless at turning our program in a positive direction.” says coach Ware.

Currently the Lady Bulldogs are 13-3 on the season and are on a 5 game winning streak dating back to late December of 2023. Last year Umatilla finished 13-8 and there is a very good chance that Umatilla could finish with their greatest number of wins in a season in school history. You have to go back to the 2018/19 season when Umatilla last won 14 games in a season. With six games remaining in 2024 there is a very good chance of this team shattering the record.

(Coach Ware is now in his second season as the head basketball coach for the Umatilla Lady Bulldogs. He has been instrumental in guiding these ladies on an uphill path to success.)

Up until last year Umatilla had not had a winning season. Max Preps only lists stats from 2006 onward. Last year the 13-8 record would be the first winning season since any of the players on the roster were born. That is saying something about where Umatilla High School is headed. “We have never won a game in the district tournament in girls basketball history. Our goal is to change that this season. We are not just seeing success on athletically but in the classroom as well. We have a few potential Valedictorians on the roster and our cumulative GPA is 3.7 which is one of the highest it’s ever been.” says coach Ware.

This is due to the amazing leadership of Principal Brent Fraizer and a caring athletic staff that includes Athletic Director Patrick Todd and Deta Brunson. From the baseball program to the basketball teams and even track and field, Umatilla is beginning to turn heads as to what they are doing.

(#3 Senior Emalee Duncan dribbles down the court. Duncan has been a team leader and is averaging 10 points per game. She is second on the team in steals and blocks.)

For a long time, Umatilla High School was the punching bag of Lake County. Now slowly but surly they are becoming a force in Lake County. This is a proud feeling for so many who grew up in Umatilla and this is so great to see on so many levels because Umatilla is leading the charge not only athletically but academically going from a state grade of a D to a state grade of a B school in just a few years.

For the lady Bulldogs they play in a very difficult district within class 4A. District 6 happens to have The Villages Charter, Eustis, and Dunellon. Umatilla will need to get by these three programs in particular when the district tournament comes around if they want a shot at making the FHSAA Playoffs. Could this be the first year the girls win a district championship under this current format?

(#23 Trinity Brennan who is a senior point guard is averaging 7 points per game for the lady Bulldogs.)

The way they are playing anything is possible. The Villages and Eustis are always the heavy favorites, but they need to be on upset alert from Umatilla High this season. We are thrilled to see how this team has developed the past few seasons and hopefully they can finish the season off on a high note.

Regardless of how this season ends up, these ladies are setting the bar for the future of the Umatilla Girls Basketball program. This team will certainly go down as a legacy team at the program. It has been a total team effort. You mention players like sophomore #15 Evelyn Purdy who is an exciting upcoming star and senior Trinity Brennan who is averaging 7 points per game, there is so much excitement as to what this program is capable of down the final stretch of the season.

(Senior #2 Lauren Archer averages 8 points per game, 5 rebounds and is shooting 45% from the field. She has scored over 400 points in her career.)

Just how far the Lady Bulldogs of Umatilla will go is going to come down to what they can do in the district tournament. But for now, we will enjoy the rest of the regular season and congratulate this entire team on their amazing accomplishments.

Photo Credit – Cady Studios

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About the Author: Kyle Coppola

Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.

For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.

Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.

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