ESTHERVILLE - Playing one of their best games to date, the Cherokee Braves ended up on the short end of the stick here Friday night, dropping a hard-fought 64-58 game to Estherville-LC in Lakes Conference boys basketball.
Never saying never, the Braves kept battling throughout after leading 16-7 in the first quarter, and trailing 25-23 at halftime. The Midgets took a 42-37 lead into the final frame and cashed in 10-12 free throws down the fourth-quarter stretch to seal the deal over the pesky Braves.
Cherokee made 23-53 field goals for 43 percent, and netted 7-13 free throws. E-LC sank 23-56 shots for 41 percent, and meshed 14-22 free throws.
Wilkie paced the Braves in assists with five, and Nathaniel Morgan had three steals and led Cherokee rebounders with eight, while Smith grabbed six.
The Cherokee cause was hurt when Stetson Dagel, the Braves' major inside presence, was whistled for his third foul in the first quarter and was forced to the bench until late in the third frame. Cherokee coach Bob Lee also credited hustling Zac Taylor for his defensive prowess off the bench.
"They are small and very quick," said Lee of the Midgets. "Their half-court defense gave us problems early on. We also had 11 turnovers in the first half that cost us possessions and points. We're taking steps to improvement but need to overcome the turnovers and cold shooting."