The Braves' inability to stop or even limit Lutz kept the Midgets in the game throughout as Cherokee rang up sizable leads, including a 20-9 bulge in the first quarter, and a 47-31 lead in the third period, only to see Lutz and company storm back with successive baskets and claw their way back in it. E-LC came within three points in the closing minutes before timely free throws by Jake Spindler and Jakob Hummel kept the Midgets at bay down the stretch.
Curtis Ege, seeing limited playing time, led the Braves scoring with 20 points, including several critical baskets when Cherokee floundered on offense. Seth Mahnke tallied 17 points, Hummel 15, and Brock dagel six. Both Dagel and Hummel battled foul problems in the second half, with Dagel fouling out midway into the fourth quarter, and Hummel following shortly after.
Cherokee shot well, sinking 25-46 field goals for a sizzling 54 percent, and cashed in 15-24 free throws. E-LC made 20-52 shots for 38 percent, and was 15-29 from the line as the teams combined to shoot 53 free throws.
Lutz was 13-20 from the foul line.
"We played a real good first quarter and looked sharp on offense and defense," said Cherokee coach Bob Lee. "Estherville woke up in the second and third quarters and made some jump shots to keep the game close. We were real happy to see our guys step up to the free throw line late in the game and make some shots to seal the win.
"Brock Dagel had a real good game for us on a night where they schemed their defense to keep the ball out of his hands. He was real good at pasing the ball, drawing his defenders away from the play, and being a force on the defensive end."
The 4-4 Braves play Le Mars in Sioux City in the CNOS Tournament at 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Tyson Events Center in what counts as a Cherokee home game.