Rated Emmetsburg, Alta too much for Cherokee
Playing ranked teams on the road was a bad experience for the struggling Cherokee Braves basketball squad last week, which fell hard 83-40 to 7th-ranked Class 2A power Emmetsburg on Friday night, and 84-47 to 3rd-ranked Class 1A Alta Saturday night.
Emmetsburg boasts a 12-1 record and is leading the Lakes Conference, while Alta is 14-0 and leading the Northwest Conference, both leagues among the toughest in the state in basketball year after year.
The Braves trailed the E-Hawks 11-0 after the first quarter, 33-10 at halftime, and 57-22 after three periods. Cherokee had taken the E-Hawks to the wall in Cherokee in December before losing on a last-second three-point shot.
Cherokee was absolutely killed by shooting a dismal 22 percent from the field. The Braves sank 13-60 shots, including a 4-17 effort from the three-point line. Emmetsburg sizzled with a 32-65 shooting effort for 49 percent.
Cherokee netted 10-20 free throws, and E-Burg was 12-22.
Cory Ege paced Cherokee's scoring with 14 points, while Matt Koch tallied 10. Matt Geelan led Emmetsburg with 27 points, followed by Mike Bisenius 14, and Nathan Kliegl 13.
Ege led the Braves on the boards with eight rebounds and also led in assists with three.
Cherokee played the game without the services of head coach Trent Coombs, who missed the game with an illness. Assistant coach Travis Schueller coached the Braves Friday night.
Saturday night, Alta exploded with a 38-point fourth quarter to blow away the Braves, who trailed 46-34 after three periods. The Cyclones led 16-11, 33-25, and 46-34 at the breaks before the scoring outburst in the final frame.
Ege led the Braves with 17 points, with Michael Boothby adding 10, and Koch eight. Aaron Hansen led the Cyclones with 26 points, followed by Tyler Boyd 17, and Drew Lietz 11.
Cherokee sank 14-44 field goals for a chilly 32 percent, and Alta popped 28-50 shots for a hot 56 percent. The Braves were 16-23 from the line, and Alta 25-34 in the foul-plagued game that saw 47 fouls called by the shaky, whistle-happy officiating crew that the unfortunate Braves had to endure for all three games last week.
"We were within reach after three quarters, before Alta got hot and went on that scoring run," said Coombs, who was back on the bench for Saturday's game. "I saw some positives. We need to put four quarters together at both ends of the court. We did some good things against a good team, and then had some scoring droughts where they pulled ahead.
"We were whistled for 10 or 15 three-point plays and those killed us throughout and led to their big run in the fourth. Alta's bench gave them great play and scoring. They're a deep team. We're not a 'putback' team that gets a lot of garbage points like other teams, and that kills us."
Cherokee hosts tough Spencer Friday night in Lakes Conference action.