A lethargic Cherokee Braves basketball team dropped a 50-42 decision to visiting Emmetsburg in Lakes Conference action here Tuesday night.
The Braves were never out of the game and also never able to be in it after the athletic E-Hawks broke from a 10-8 first-quarter bulge to a 24-16 halftime edge.
That margin stayed about the same throughout the second half, with Emmetsburg holding a 37-29 lead after three periods and claiming the game with that 8-point margin at the end.
Ryan Kliegl led a balanced E-Hawk scoring effort with 12 points, and 6-10 senior post Nick Wuebker tallied 11 while battling foul troubles the last three periods. The anticipated battle between the towering Wuebker and Cherokee's 6-8 senior post Brock Dagel never materialized.
Mahnke led the Braves on the boards with eight rebounds, and Spindler grabbed five. Mahnke also had four steals and three assists.
Emmetsburg sank 23-50 shots for 46 percent, with most of those coming on easy lay-ups and short-range shots not well defended by the Braves, who utilized full-court defensive pressure much of the way.
"We really struggled on the offensive end tonight," said Cherokee coach Bob Lee. "We missed too many shots inside and turned the ball over way too many times. In a low-scoring game, these types of mistakes are very costly.
"I thought our defense did a nice job. Emmetsburg is a talented offensive team and they have really shot three-pointers well so far this year. Our guys did a nice job of closing out on their shooters and challenging the shot. Holding them to 50 points with no made three-pointers is a good effort by our defense."
The 1-2 Braves play at Spencer Friday night and host Ridge View Saturday night.