Balanced scoring, pumped to play at opening jump, and hitting critical shots at crucial times parlayed into sweet success for the Cherokee Braves here on Feb. 4 - a 51-43 win over Lakes Conference arch-rival Storm Lake.
Cherokee's promising 6-6 freshman post Brock Dagel recorded his first varsity double-double to lead the improved Braves this night, finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds, two blocked shots, and two vital baskets in the final minutes as the Braves turned back a gritty Tornado challenge.
Cherokee outscored SL 20-11 in the final frame for the victory, with Dillon Moye cashing in a huge three-ball to ignite the charge, Kyle Schuck draining two big inside buckets and four free throws down the stretch, Matt Koch nailing a big bucket inside late, and Matt Pitts coming off the bench to can two big free throws to help the Braves sustain their lead.
"What a great feeling to see the guys finish like they did," said pleased Cherokee coach Trent Coombs, whose team has lost several close games this season in the final minutes by fading too fast. "We hit some HUGE shots when we needed them.
"We've been focusing on defense to give us opportunities at the end and tonight it worked out great for us. Dillon came off the bench to hit a couple huge shots and our defense made stops when we needed them."
Schuck added 13 points and nine rebounds for the winning Braves, while Matt Koch talied nine points. Jesse Munger paced Storm Lake with 14 points.
The Braves sank 19-39 field goals for a warm 49 percent, while the Tornadoes netted 15-43 shots for 35 percent. Cherokee was 12-19 from the line, and SL 10-14.
The Braves led 15-5 after one quarter, taking a 15-0 lead that set the Tornadoes back on their heels. Cherokee led 26-19 at halftime before SL came back to take a 32-31 lead heading into the pivotal fourth period.