After trailing for almost the first 2½ periods, Cherokee (10-5, 3-2 Region 5AAAAAA) finally found a way past an aggressive Walton defense.
By throwing the ball long over the top of the Raiders’ defenders, the Warriors took a 34-33 lead off of a short shot by Armony Parker with a minute remaining in the third.
For the next 5 minutes, the game was all Cherokee, as the Warriors went on a 14-point run to take a 46-33 lead.
With the Warriors beginning to play their best basketball of the contest, the Raiders (7-3, 3-2) began to falter, and they eventually found themselves down 52-36 with 5 minutes remaining in the game, and they were unable to catch up.
Cherokee coach Roger Kvam credited defense for the Warriors’ victory.
“We played outstanding defense,” he said. “We got on a defensive run, and once we did, we started to hit some easy baskets. I was proud of our kids.”
By holding an advantage in rebounding in the first half, Walton was able to take a slim 24-22 lead into halftime.
Jordan McCray was also perfect for the Raiders from 3-point range in the first period, going 3-for-3 and finishing the period with 11 points.
Unfortunately for Walton, McCray didn’t score another point the rest of the night.
At the beginning of the third, Walton had its best chance to pull away, as Cherokee’s seemed unable to put the ball in the basket, despite having numerous chances to do so. The Raiders, however, were unable to take advantage of the situation, and they were only ever able to build a four-point lead before the Warriors came back late in the third.
Once Parker made his go-ahead shot, Cherokee never trailed again.
Leading the Warriors on the night was Ja’Davin Keith with 20 points, while Parker scored 13. Willie McClure and Jeremiah Gill each finished with eight points.
Leading Walton were C.J. Wingate and McCray, who each finished with 11. Chad Clay had 10.
Walton coach Joe Goydish felt his team’s lack of toughness led to the loss.
“They won because they wanted it more,” he said. “They just played harder and tougher than we did.”
Cherokee 63, Walton 30: Picking up their 14th victory of the season, the Lady Warriors doubled-up the Lady Raiders in the Region 5AAAAAA game.
Cherokee (14-1, 4-0) turned in one of its most dominant first-period performances of the season, outscored Walton (6-5, 2-3) by an 18-2 margin.
After being outscored 19-5 by Cherokee in the second, Walton did managed to trim the Lady Warriors’ lead by three points in the third, but the gap was far to large to overcome.
Kiana Howell led Cherokee with 18 points, while Anuesha Williams finished with 13 and Audrisha Williams 12.
The only Walton player to break double digit on the night was Meredith Singer, who finished with 10 points.