SIOUX CITY - A tall and talented Le Mars boys basketball team, with just two losses and a win over Iowa's #1-rated Hull Western Christian (2A), steadily dismantled the Cherokee Braves at the CNOS Tournament here Fariday night, claiming a decisive 76-46 Lakes Conference victory.
The game, originally scheduled as Cherokee's home date against the Bulldogs, was moved to Sioux City to accomodate the CNOS Tournament that features several Northwest Iowa prep and collegiate teams. The game didn't start until 10 p.m. and was concluded shortly after midnight.
Le Mars jumped out to a 22-15 lead in the first quarter and took a 39-24 bulge into halftime. The Bulldogs then stayed the course in the second half, outscoring the Braves 37-22 for the win.
Seth Mahnke and Curtis Ege led Cherokee's scoring with 13 points each, with Ege also snagging six rebounds, and Mahnke four. Brock Dagel, Cherokee's 6-8 post player, tallied seven points.
Austin Homan led Le Mars with 21 points, while Paxton Strub had 14, and Mike Ahlers 12.
The Braves sank 20-51 field goals for 39 percent, and was just 4-14 from the free throw line. Le Mars netted 34-67 shots for a torrid 51 percent, and cashed in 8-14 free throws.
"Our guys started the game a little intimidated by our surroundings (Tyson Events Center) and let Le Mars get an early lead," noted Cherokee coach Bob Lee. "After a time-out, we settled down and executed rather well for a few minutes to cut into the lead by the end of the first quarter thanks to a last-second three-pointer by Seth Mahnke. We missed some good looks inside and let the frustration affect our defense, which is a mistake you can't make against a team as good as Le Mars.
"Curtis Ege has played very well since the break, and tonight was no exception. Besides scoring 13 points, he hustled all over the court and grabbed six rebounds. He has really gotten comfortable in the sixth man role, which is a very important position in our system."
Cherokee (4-5) plays at Storm Lake Friday, and hosts South O'Brien Saturday night.