SPENCER - The hustling Cherokee Braves, young and restless and sporting a 1-14 record, fought gamely at rated Spencer on Jan. 18, ultimately succumbing 81-51 to the torrid-shooting Tigers.
Despite falling behind 22-9 after a sluggish first period, the Braves battled back time and again to trail 37-26 at halftime, and 58-40 after three quarters. Cherokee pulled to within seven points on a couple occasions in the third frame, before the explosive Tigers rallied and won it going away in the final stanza.
Tyler Jones came off the bench to lead the balanced Braves with 16 points, followed by Cody Ege 11, Matt Koch 10, Kyle Schuck 10, and Brock Dagel nine.
Dan Johnson led Spencer's scoring with 14 points, while Nolan Goeken had 13, and Kyle Finch 11.
The Braves sank 18-47 field goals for 38 percent, while the hot-shooting Tigers meshed 33-63 for 52 percent, including 32-54 two-pointers. Cherokee was 21-27 from the foul line, and Spencer hit 14-21 free throws in the foul-plagued contest.
Kyle Schuck, a 6-2 sophomore dynamo on the boards, led the Braves once again with a dozen rebounds against the taller Tigers, who out-rebounded Cherokee 38-33 for the game. Dagel, a 6-6 freshman, also had three blocked shots to remain among the top shot blockers in the state.
"We started out soft and tentative," said Cherokee coach Trent Coombs. "We gave up too many lay-ups because we were slow to get back on their fast breaks. We'd get going good and all of a sudden - Boom! Boom! - and bad things happened to us.
"Over all, we did a lot of things right. We're young and we missed a bunch of bunnies inside. After that first quarter, we played a pretty good game."
"Cody played great defense for us, and Matt Pitts and Keaton Tuttle gave us good minutes off the bench."