SPIRIT LAKE - The Cherokee Braves couldn't respond with the energy required for consecutive nights of rugged basketball action, dropping a disappointing 55-44 game at Spirit Lake here Friday night.
After blowing away a good Ridge View club in Cherokee Thursday, the Braves were outscored and out-hustled in the setback to the 4-2 Indians, who outscored Cherokee 28-20 in the pivotal second half.
Brock Dagel led Cherokee with 20 points, and Jakob Hummel added seven. For Spirit Lake, once again the Braves had no answer for the Indians' guard Mitch Peschon, who tallied a game-high 22 points, including some big buckets down the stretch when the Indians broke from a tight contest that had both teams trading the lead for much of the way in the first three periods. Wes Berquist scored 15 for the Indians.
Spirit Lake's game plan was effective against the befuddled Braves, taking time off the clock and waiting for the good shot, while simultaneously tiring out the Braves on defense.
Cherokee sank 14-30 field goals for a warm 47 percent, but made just 13-28 free throws for a telling shortcoming that made the difference in the game. Spirit Lake made 21-43 shots for 49 percent and was 11-20 from the line.
Dagel led the Braves on the boards with six rebounds, and Seth Mahnke, Dagel, Curtis Ege, and Hummel each had two steals.
"They had a great game plan to milk the clock and work our guys on defense, knowing we had a big game the night before," said Cherokee coach Bob Lee. "They shot lights out. They just didn't miss. They controlled the ball and took time off the clock. It was nip and tuck all the way until the final minutes."
The 3-4 Braves take a holiday break and host Estherville-LC Jan. 4.