SPIRIT LAKE - The Cherokee Braves, composed and aggressive in the exciting overtime period, proved they had what it takes to prevail in the tight games on the road, claiming a 47-42 overtime victory over Spirit Lake here on Jan. 30.
The Braves (9-8) led 10-6 after the first quarter and clung to a 21-20 halftime lead, before taking a 33-28 bulge into the final period. The teams were tied at 36-36 at the end of regulation after Spirit Lake's Joel Hageman calmly sank two free throws with 2.8 seconds left to knot the score.
But the Braves answered the call in the five-minute overtime period. "I told them we had five minutes left to play and to stay poised and be aggressive and that we would win the game," said Smith. "The guys went out and executed and we won it."
Smith had high prasie for Matt Pitts, who came off the bench in the OT to sink 3-3 free throws to keep Cherokee in the lead. Then, Matt Koch calmly potted two more free throws at the end to seal the deal.
Tyler Jones led the winners with 13 points, and Brock Dagel added 11. Kyle Schuck paced Cherokee on the glass with six rebounds, and Dagel grabbed four. Schuck also led in assists with four.
Spirit Lake's Tyler Solsma led his team in scoring with 13 points, with Cherokee's Nick Parker shutting him down much of the way with a brilliant defensive effort. "Nick played great defense despite his foul trouble," noted Smith.
Dagel also came up big with a huge offensive rebound and put-back bucket early in the OT that settled the Braves down. "We reacted great after that and got after it on defense," said Smith. "We played perfectly in the overtime."
The Braves sank 16-41 field goals for 39 percent, and made 9-14 free throws, The Indians cashed in 11-17 free throws.
Cherokee also pared down its recent turnover problems to a manageable 16, much better than the 25 on-average miscues that had plagued them in recent losses.