SPENCER - Cherokee's enigmatic Braves, coming off two successive losses they think they should have won, showed what they're made of at the game's critical juncture here Friday night on the way to a hard-earned, well-deserved 57-46 Lakes Conference boys basketball victory over a quality Spencer team.
With three players hitting double figures, and a tough defense stifling the Tigers' attack in the late going, Cherokee beat Spencer by overcoming the very demons that cost them the last two games.
Brock Dagel, the Braves vastly improved 6-7 junior post, paced Cherokee's scoring with 18 points, while Energizer Bunny Cody Ege added 17, and savvy Matt Pitts 12 to lead Cherokee to the win in the tough confines of the Spencer Fieldhouse.
Nick Parker was a force on the boards for the Braves with 13 rebounds, and Ege snatched six. Ege led Cherokee in steals with six, and Nick Parker dished five assists. Dagel registered four blocked shots and threw down an impressive dunk.
Josh Bubke led Spencer's scoring with 21 points.
After a tight first quarter, Cherokee led 25-18 at halftime, and 37-29 after three periods, before outscoring the Tigers 20-17 in the fateful fourth. Spencer drained a couple threes and sank free throws to pull to within 48-46 before the Braves put the hammer down thanks to a steal and bucket by Ege, a three-point play by Dagel, a big threeball by Pitts, and some timely free throws.
The Braves sank 21-50 field goals for 42 percent, including a 1-6 effort from the three-point arc. Spencer was 15-45 from the field for 33 percent, and was just 1-12 from threeballs thanks to a tough Cherokee defense. The winners made 15-25 free throws, and Spencer was 13-25.
"Our defense played really well," said Cherokee coach Bob Lee. "When they cut it to two late in the game, we were patient on offense, got it to the lane, and made some free throws. Then Cddy got that big steal and converted to get us up again and we rallied to the cause. Matt Pitts hit a huge three for us, and Brock delivered when we needed it."
The 10-4 Braves (7-3 in Lakes Conference) host dangerous Le Mars tonight, travel to Hull Western Christian Tuesday, and host Spirit Lake Friday.