With one of the smallest rosters in the county and possessing only one player over 6 feet, the Warriors (3-0, 0-1 Region 5AAAAAA) were able to get the jump on the Eagles (0-2, 0-1) at the beginning of each period while also combating their height advantage.
“We’re small. We’ve got five guards on the floor, so we’ve all got to gang-rebound,” Cherokee coach Roger Kvam said. “Everyone has to get in there.”
After taking an early lead, the Warriors stayed in front almost the entire first half until an Etowah 3-pointer tied it up at 31 just before the second period expired.
Cherokee came out strong at the beginning of the third and jumped to a 12-point lead before the Eagles pulled within five.
Cherokee once again pulled away at the beginning of the fourth period, and Etowah was unable to catch up.
When speaking of Etowah’s ability to trim down the Warriors’ lead late in the second and third periods, Kvam pointed out his team’s small numbers as a factor.
“With them running 10 guys at us, while we were playing seven, we would wear down,” Kvam said. “Fatigue was a little bit of a factor.”
Kvam felt his team’s poise and patience on offense in the second half was what delivered the victory.
Leading the scoring for the Warriors was Ja’David Keith, who put up 18 points and was 8-for-13 from the free-throw line.
Also breaking double digits in points for Cherokee was Jeremiah Gill with 16, Willie McClure with 12 and Zack Kvam with 11.
Leading Etowah was Jack Shaughnessy with 16.
Fouls also proved to be a problem for the Eagles, who took only 13 free-throw shots in comparison to the Warriors’ 25.
Cherokee 59, Etowah 51: In a competitive affair earlier in the night, the Lady Warriors finally found some separation in the fourth quarter to pick up their third win of the season.
After finding itself down 48-47 with less than 4 minutes to go in the game, Cherokee (3-0, 1-0) took back control of the contest and the lead after Etowah’s offense stalled.
Though the Lady Eagles (0-2, 0-1), who trailed most of the game, had begun to pick up steam in the second half, they were unable to find the net in the closing minutes.
Etowah quickly found itself resorting to fouling as Cherokee’s lead began to grow in the final 2 minutes, and the Lady Warriors were able to ice the game with a couple of free throws.
Though he was happy with the victory, Cherokee coach Matt Cates felt the Warriors could have played much better.
“We were very fortunate to get the win.” Cates said. “I thought we closed out the last 3 minutes well, but other than that, we didn’t do very much well in my eyes.”
Aunesha Williams led the Lady Warriors by scoring a game-high 20 points, and she was 8-for-12 from the free-throw line.
Shakyna Payne led Etowah with 16.