ESTHERVILLE - Timely baskets, solid defense, and heady play at crunch times led the Cherokee Braves to a hard-earned 49-44 Lakes Conference basketball win over stubborn Estherville-LC here Friday night.
Michael Boothby paced the Cherokee offense with 16 points, while scoring leader Cory Ege, badgered throughout with double teams and a defense focused on him, scored 11, Evan Meyer 10, and Tyler Jone seven.
Kyle Grems led the Midgets with 18 points, followed by Matt Gruhlke with seven.
The winning Braves sank 13-38 field goals for 34 percent, whiile E-LC netted 17-51 for 33 percent, including a 4-18 effort on three-pointers. Cherokee meshed 3-8 treys, to go along with a superb 20-24 effort from the free throw line.
With the defensive goal to shut out the Midgets in the first quarter, the Braves came close, grabbing a 10-2 lead after one frame. Cherokee led 28-18 at halftime after building a 16-point lead in the second quarter. The Braves led 33-29 after three periods, but maintained in the fourth to claim the big win.
Josh Mugge, Ege, and Meyer led Cherokee in steals and assists with two apiece in each category.
Cherokee's second half, despite a dismal 11-5 scoring deficit in the third quarter, was punctuated by huge timely baskets by Boothby on the outside and Meyer inside.
"Evan did everything right for us and came up huge inside tonight," said a pleased Cherokee coach Trent Coombs. "He played his best game for us. And Michael Boothby hit a couple big threes that kept us in front.
"We ran well tonight and our guards were taking it to the hole as you can see by our free throws. We need to do all of this to win. We set our goals and accomplished what we wanted to, and we hit our free throws. It was a hard-fought game."