The Braves, with four seniors and 6-8 junior Brock Dagel in the starting line-up, have high hopes for this season under first-year coach Bob Lee, the former Galva-Holstein boys coach and a Cherokee graduate. However, with Tuesday's setback, they now know they will have to get after it in practices to raise their level of execution in the games for the rest of the season.
The game featured stout defenses from both teams, with Storm Lake electing to foul the Braves' shooters, rather than give them the short-range baskets. That tactic worked throughout, with Cherokee only attempting 42 field goals, making 17 of those for a 40-percent effort. The Braves were just 1-9 from three-point range, including three airballs from the arc. Cherokee was just 17-31 from the free throw line in the foul-prone game.
The Tornadoes sank 18-45 field goals for 40-percent, but made timely baskets when they counted most. Storm Lake made 20-29 free throws as the teams totaled a whopping 60 shots from the line.
Cody Ege led the Cherokee scoring with 14 points, followed by Dagel with nine, Matt Pitts eight, and Kyle Schuck eight. Dagel and Schuck led the Braves on the boards with four rebounds apiece. Ege led his team in steals with five, and assists with four.
Trey O'Brien, a sophomore off the bench, was a thorn in the Braves' side throughout as they could not contain the small hustler, who tossed in 15 points to lead the Tornadoes. Michael McCabe tallied 14 points, and Carson Anderson 11, including two big three-balls down the stretch when Storm Lake made a run to force overtime late in the fourth quarter.
The Braves led 10-6 after a lethargic first quarter, and 27-20 at halftime, before relinquishing the momentum and the game in the second half. The teams were tied at 47-47 at the end of regulation.
With Cherokee trailing by two points late in the game, the officials mistakenly ruled an over-and-back call on the Braves on a critical in-bounds possession. Storm Lake scored on that erroneous possession and then rode it out to seal the deal.
"Our guys played hard, but came up a little short," said Cherokee coach Bob Lee. "We played a pretty good first half, but then came out a little flat to start the second half, going four minutes without scoring and letting Storm Lake stay in the game.
"From there out it was a dog fight, and they were able to hit some important free throws in overtime to take the game. The first game always gives ypu a chance to see where you are at. Our guys did some real nice things tonight, but we also now see what areas we need to spend practice time working on so we can improve as a team."
The Braves host Manson NW Webster tonight, and travel to Sergeant Bluff-Luton Saturday night.