In fact, his play has been so valuable this season that the Warriors are 0-for-4 when he’s not in the lineup.
It was another banner night for Keith on Friday as the visiting Warriors rallied in the second half, to a 68-62 win.
Keith led Cherokee (12-5, 5-2 Region 5AAAAAA) with 22 points — pouring 11 in each half — to keep it in the game in the first and helping it pull away in the second. He also went 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the second half.
Keith’s latest performance came days a 23-point outing in a win over Milton, last year’s Class AAAAA state champion
“He’s had a good year and has really picked it up,” Cherokee coach Roger Kvam said.
Armony Parker was also clutch for Cherokee, particularly in the second half when he made three of his four attempts from long range. Parker finished with 17 points, as did Zack Kvam, and Jovan Morris added 10 points.
The turning point for Cherokee in the second half came when it chose to be more aggressive against Etowah’s zone defense. The Warriors were too pass-happy in the first half, with some passes leading to turnovers, and that allowed the Eagles to build a 32-28 halftime lead.
Once Cherokee decided cut down on moving the ball around the perimeter in the second half, the Warriors looked like a different team. They started the third quarter with a 12-4 run and didn’t take their first lead of the game until the 4:12 mark, when Morris made a pair of free throws. Parker added to the lead with a 3-pointer and came through with another 3 late in the frame to build a 47-42 lead going into the fourth.
“I don’t think we were aggressive in attacking the zone. The kids were passing it around and catching it as passes instead of catching it to score,” Roger Kvam said. “In the second half, we started being more aggressive.”
After Keith had a quiet third quarter, he sprung to life in the fourth.
With Etowah (6-12, 1-7) sinking 3-pointers in the fourth quarter in attempt to regain control, Keith came through with a dunk and a pair of layups to maintain Cherokee’s small lead.
Jack Shaughnessy led Etowah with 19 points and sank four shots from beyond the arc to help keep Etowah in it.
Dante Richitelli was also solid for Etowah with 16 points, and his four 3s in the first half helped Etowah build a lead. Destin Porche was also hot behind the 3-point line, hitting three of his own to finish with 15.
Cherokee finally got separation in the fourth quarter when Parker floated in a layup with a little more than 2 minutes remaining for a 7-63 lead. He added another layin on Cherokee’s next possession for a nine-point lead, and Etowah’s 3-point attempts afterwards stopped falling in.
Shaughnessy hit a 3 with 42 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, but Zack Kvam and Keith combined for nine free made down the stretch.
Cherokee 49, Etowah 23: The Lady Warriors outscored the Lady Eagles by 20 points in the second quarter to set the tone, holding them to just one bucket.
A 28-5 halftime deficit was too much for Etowah to overcome.
Aunisha Williams and Audrisha Williams each scored 11 points for Cherokee (17-1, 8-0), and Kiana Howell added nine.