Cherokee's hustling girls' basketball team overcame a dismal 20-2 first- quarter deficit with three quarters of inspired play only to drop a 50-35 verdict to Lakes Conference foe Le Mars here on Dec. 5.
The catastrophic beginning cast the visiting Bulldogs into an insurmountable lead in the first eight minutes, only to see the hard-working WHS club fight back and outscore the Bulldogs 33-30 in the last three quarters and fall short of the win.
Shelby Dilla found her shooting touch to lead the balanced Cherokee scoring with 10 points (three three-pointers), followed by Julie Miller with nine, and Kelsie Peterson and Lynn Carlson with six apiece.
Alyssa Louison led Le Mars in scoring with 17 points, many of those on inside shots resulting from costly Cherokee turnovers, or the Bulldogs beating the full-court defensive pressure applied by Cherokee.
Cherokee did win the battle on the boards with 30 rebounds, to 18 by Le Mars. Carlson led that category with nine rebounds, and Peterson snagged eight.
Cherokee sank 13-42 field goals for a chilly 31 percent, many of those misses on hard-luck in-and-out shots on the inside after the WHS girls had battled tough for the offensive rebounds.
Cherokee meshed 4-9 free throws in the game, while Le Mars was just 4-23, shooting 14 more free throws than the hosts.
The aggressive Cherokee defense led Peterson to lead in the steals department with 10, and Miller to total eight. Misty Bruhn led in assists with five.
The Cherokee cause was hurt with four players battling the effects of the flu.
After falling back 20-2 after the first quarter, Cherokee stayed the course to trail 30-17 at halftime, and 38-27 after three frames.
"We played hard, but that first quarter killed us," said first-year coach Abby James. "We just weren't ready to go and we'll address that in practice this week. We had costly turnovers early and were not ready to play. After that horrible start, we settled down and played basketball, but it was too late."