Braves Share Lakes’ Title
Emotions ran high here Tuesday as a large Cherokee crowd waved goodbye to senior cagers and cheerleaders.
But any sadness was erased as the Class 2A, fourth ranked lady Braves claimed a share of the Lakes Conference crown with a 60-33 win over Spirit Lake. The Braves, defending league champs, share this season’s title with Class 4A LeMars, the only team to defeat Cherokee his season.
In the nightcap, the Braves dropped their seventh straight, losing to Spirit Lake 68-55.
Four Cherokee seniors, Kiley Kennebeck, Lily Anderson, Payton Slaughter and Kassidy Pingel turned in strong efforts to cap off the regular season at 20-1.
“Our seniors have enjoyed much success and continued to build tradition in the Cherokee girls’ basketball program,” said Cherokee Coach Heath Hagberg. “Their dedication and willingness to uphold the culture of our program continues to be appreciated. As coaches and a program, we will miss this group of talented young ladies.”
It is not, however, the last time these players will see their home court. The Braves will play here in 2A regional tournament play on Tuesday at 7p.m. against the winner of Saturday’s West Lyon vs. Sibley-Ocheyedan game.
Sophomore JeMae Nichols, was perfect six-of-six from the field, and six-of-seven from the line to lead Cherokee with 18 points. Pingel was close behind with 17. Again, Cherokee played 14 girls. Slaughter was “Queen LaThiefa” again with 10 steals as she continues to lead the state in that category.
“We are intent to focus on one practice/one game at a time to accomplish our season long goal of playing in the state tournament,” said Hagberg.
In the boys’ game, Cherokee dropped its seventh in a row and finish the regular season at 8-13. Cherokee will enter Class 2A district tournament play at Rock Valley Monday in a 6:30p.m. game against 5-15 Sheldon.
“It’s not the time of year you want to be struggling,” said Cherokee Coach Mark Hurd. “We have to get back to playing together, especially on the defensive end and playing for each other,” he added.
Cherokee trailed early as Spirit Lake, minus an injured 6-11 star Owen Coburn, led 14-6 and 29-14 at half.
Cherokee cut a consistent 12 point Spirit Lake lead to eight a couple times in the second half, but never could overcome a relentless Indians’ defense. Offensively, the Braves shot poorly all night, hitting only 19 of 54 shots and only five of 26 from three.
Alex Paulsrud was Cherokee’s lone player in double figures with 13.