SPENCER - Playing with the intensity and fortitude it takes to compete in the rugged Lakes Conference night in and night out, the surprising Cherokee Braves continued to fight to the end, dispatching a talented, undefeated Spencer team 56-47 here on Dec. 12.
Cherokee sophomore post Brock Dagel showed his mettle this night, racking up an impressive double-double with 17 game-high points and 14 critical rebounds to lead the Braves to the hard-fought victory.
On Dagel's heels came senior Matt Koch with the finest all-around game of his career, tallying 16 points, grabbing five rebounds, notching four steals, and dishing out an important seven assists.
Hustling Cody Ege chipped in with 10 points and four assists in another stellar performance on both ends of the court for the winning Braves. Kyle Schuck also came up big as usual on the inside with 10 rebounds and six points at key times.
Matt Pitts came off the bench to help carry the load when senior guard Tyler Jones went out in the second quarter with a broken wrist after diving for a loose ball. Jones is expected to miss about four weeks with "a slight" fracture to his right wrist, his shooting hand. Pitts manned up to rake in six rebounds and abetted his teammates with some surly defense as has been the Braves calling card this season under new coach Bart Smith.
With both teams displaying solid defense, Spencer led 6-5 after one quarter, and 20-18 at halftime, before the Braves sneaked out of the third frame with a 30-29 lead. But then came Dagel who put the team on his broad shoulders in the fourth period and helped carry his club to the hard-earned 56-47 win.
Kyle Fitch led Spencer with 16 points, and Logan Huber added 12.
Cherokee sank 19-50 field goals for 38 percent, and meshed 16-28 free throws. Spencer made 19-25 free throws.
"This was a good win," said first-year coach Bart Smith of his 3-1 Braves. "We made sone offensive adjustment at halftime and that opened up Brock in the second half and he came through for us. We had a rough start and missed some bunnies inside, but we hung in there.
"We hate to lose Tyler. "He was coming along as a leader. He's still going to have to do that from the bench. He's one of our leaders and now he's going to have to lead until he cn get back in about a month. Our goal is to win both games next week into the Christmas break and be 5-0 in the Lakes."