PAULLINA - It was one and done for the Cherokee Braves' jouney into the Class 2A post-season here on Feb. 16th, as a hot-shooting South O'Brien team avenged a 55-34 loss at Cherokee in January with a resounding 74-56 victory.
As it turned out here Monday, the game turned into a three-ball party, with the host Wolverines thriving in their home gym with a 12-20 effort from the try line. Not to be outdone, Cherokee sank 9-29 three-pointers.
Seniors Tyler Jones and Matt Koch led the Braves in scoring with 18 and 16 points, respectively. The potent Wolverines were led by Jarod Syndergaard's 22 points, followed by Adam Paulsen 21, Ryan Brasser 18, and Kyle Petrich 11.
SOS made 31-57 field goals for a sizzling 54 percent, and cashed in 24-32 free throws, including 17-22 in the fourth quarter alone, as the Braves fouled late to regain ball possession. Cherokee sank 20-47 shots for 43 percent and was 7-15 from the line.
SOS led 52-51 with four minutes left in the game when the Wolverines nailed two straight three-balls and a couple free throws to begin a 22-5 scoring run that salted the game away.
Kyle Schuck led Cherokee in rebounds with five, and Nick Parker led in steals with three. Jones and Cody Ege led in assists with four each.
Syndergaard had 10 rebounds to pace SOS, and Brasser snagged six. Syndergaard also had four assists.
The teams were tied at 29-29 at halftime, and SOS led 45-40 heading into the final period.
"When you work so hard (all season) and lose, it hurts more," added Smith. "But it's bittersweet because then you know you must work harder next time to avoid that hurt and hopefully it feeds on itself so your program keeps improving as the kids work harder and harder. That's what it takes. It's a year-around effort."