PAULLINA - Winners of two of their last three games, the young Cherokee Washington High girls basketball squad is finding that winning is much more enjoyable than losing.
Saturday night, Cherokee jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter to claim a 48-41 non-conference victory here over South O'Brien.
Cherokee led 9-3 after one quarter, 18-15 at halftime, and took a 33-30 lead into the fateful fourth frame before outscoring the host Wolverines 15-11 in the final eight minutes for the win.
Katie Sambrano led the WHS gals with 16 points, while Megan Hummel added 14, and Julie Miller 12. Cassie Rehder paced South O'Brien's scoring with 13 points, and Miranda Kelleher chopped in 12.
Cherokee sank 14-52 field goals for a chilly 27 percent, including a 5-18 effort from the three-point line against the packed-in 1-3-1 zone defense employed by the Wolverines. The winners netted 15-20 free throws.
South O'Brien made 13-38 field goals for 34 percent, and was 2-7 from the three-point arc. The hosts meshed 13-21 free throws.
Miller led Cherokee on the boards with nine rebounds, followed by Jackie Wilson seven, Hummel six, and Taylor Woods six. Shanon Shaefer led Cherokee in assists with four, with Wilson and Woods dishing three each. Hummel led the winners in steals with five, and Miller pocketed four.
"We started the game quick jumping out to a 9-0 lead but were slow to adjust to their switch on defenses," noted Cherokee coach Heath Hagberg. "South O'Brien really packed it inside with their 1-3-1 zone and we did not shoot high enough percentage to force them to come out of their zone. Some of this is the fact this was our fourth game of the week.
"We had a season low 12 turnovers! I was very pleased with our effort and how we converted on free throw chances in the final minites of the game."
Cherokee plays at Spencer Friday night and hosts Alta Saturday night.