STORM LAKE - The vastly improving Cherokee Braves continued to lay it on the line with intense, half-court pressure defense and a quick-striking offense that may or may not reap benefits, depending if the shots fall, on the way to a sweet 52-40 victory in Lakes Conference boys basketball here Fon Dec. 19th.
The Braves broke from a tense, error-filled first half for both teams with a 19-17 lead, both teams victimized by an excess of turnovers and some faulty shooting inside and from the perimeter.
Despite the cold shooting, the Braves still knocked down 19-47 field goals for 40 percent, including six valuable three-pointers that helped open up the inside for 6-7 sophomore past Brock Dagel to work his magic, especially in the critical second half. Dagel, improving each night out, recorded his first back-to-back varsity double-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds, and also tossed in six blocked shots to complete a yeoman effort this night.
Matt Koch continued his stellar play with 10 points, while Nick Parker came off the bench to tally nine points, along with gritty Kyle Schuck, who scored nine points while playing the last three quarters with an injured ankle. Schuck also grabbed 12 rebounds and David Cook came off the bench to snag five.
The Braves struggled at the free throw line with a shaky 10-28 effort, while the foul-prone Tornadoes sank 6-8.
Cody Ege led Cherokee with four assists and three steals, and Koch added three assists. The Braves had 11 fouls in the game, and the grab-and-hold Tornadoes totaled 25.
"We played to their style of basketball in the first half," said Cherokee coach Bart Smith. "We didn't get the ball to the post and had too many hurried shots. We played hard. They played hard. In the second half, we played smarter and had fewer fouls and that held us together.
"We had 18 turnovers and that's too much. Storm Lake gambled on defense and that led to their fouls."
Smith also credited David Cook and Brandon Henke with solid minutes off the bench. "Nick Parker stepped up off the bench for us," said Smith. "He showed what he is capable of. He hit some big shots and played great defense."
The Braves are now 4-1 this season, and 4-0 in the Lakes Conference.