By JEFF BENSON | Cherokee County News-Patriot Sports
CHEROKEE, Iowa - Playing on its home floor has been rewarding for the Cherokee boy's basketball team all season long going 6-1 in its first seven games. Entered their Lakes Conference matchup with Storm Lake on Friday, Jan. 24, first and foremost the Braves' goal was just win. Cherokee wanted in the worst way to avenge a mid-December loss in Storm Lake, they felt slipped away.
Point of emphasis was getting off to a quick start and Cherokee did just that with back-to-back threes by Brayden Farver in the first two minutes to stake Cherokee to a 9-0 lead on the Tornadoes. The remainder of the game had its share of riding an emotional roller coaster. Cherokee managed in the end to squeeze out the 58-55 win to improve to 11-4 overall. Storm Lake dropped its third consecutive game and sees its record stand 5-7.
Cherokee capitalized on the slight difference in free throws, particularly in the fourth quarter when the Braves went 11-of-17 with Ryan Hurd 7-of-9 in the quarter, as the Braves piut the ball in the senior's hands. Overall, Cherokee wound up 18-of-28 (64%) compared to Storm Lake's 13-of-19 (68%) from the charity stripe.
Other statistical numbers were nearly identical between the rivals. CHerokee had 17 total field goals to Storm Lakes 18, and both teams made eight threes. Cherokee finished with 21 rebounds and the Tornadoes had 22. Mark Eddie put Storm Lake's fortunes on his shoulders, getting the Tornadoes to within three points of Cherokee (24-21) with 4:15 left in the opening half. Cherokee would push the lead back to six points (29-23) before the halftime buzzer.
Eddie in a span two-and-a half minutes connected on three 3-point baskets to tie the game at 34-34 with 4:28 remaining in the third quarter. A Keyon Hamilton putback off a Eddie miss with 3:31 left gave Storm Lake a 36-34 lead. The final minute of the third quarter favored Cherokee. With 54 seconds left, Hurd knocked down a 3-point basket putting Cherokee back on top. Two free throws by Storm Lake's Jamou Gatwech tied it at 39-39 with under 30 seconds left. WIth only 2.6 ticks of the clock remaining Braves' sophomore Joe Benson sank a trey Cherokee to the fourth quarter up 42-39 .
Foul trouble began piling up on Cherokee, Farver fouled out in the fourth quarter. Fellow Braves Alex Paulsrud and Ryan Hurd each had four fouls.
Gatwech got Storm Lake to within a points (56-55) with a pair of free throws and 31 ticks of the clock remaining after Cherokee had pushed the lead to five points with 57 seconds remaining. The Tornadoes had the game's final possession with 7.6 seconds but was unable to convert.
Hurd finished with a game-high 21 points, adding seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks to his totals. Farver tallied 12 points and Joe Benson finished up with 11. Hurd and Benson both improved their numbers dramatically from the teams first meeting in Storm Lake. Hurd finished with 11 points and Benson was scoreless back on Dec. 13 when the teams matched up in Storm Lake.
Storm Lake (5-7) with the loss has dropped three straight games, something the Tornadoes haven't experienced since a five game losing streak back from Jan. 26 to Feb. 13, 2018.
Cherokee (11-4) has already surpassed the eight win of the Braves from a season ago and is within one win of tying the most wins by a Braves team this decade. Cheorkee went 12-8 back in the 2009-10 season.
Storm Lake 11-23-39-55
Alex Paulsrud 3-6 1-1 7, Trevor Lundquist 1-1 0-0 2, Brayden Farver 3-5 3-4 12, Mark Hurd 5-9 10-15 21, Joe Benson 3-8 2-4 11, Kobe Grell 0-2 2-4 2, Wil Lugar 0-0 0-0 0, Mason Carver 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 16-32 18-28 58.
3-point goals: Cherokee 8-19 (Farver 3-5, Benson 3-8, Carver 1-1, Hurd 1-3, Grell 0-1, Paulsrud 0-1), Storm Lake 8-20. Rebounds: Cherokee 21 (Hurd 7, Benson 3, Grell 3), Storm Lake 22. Assists: Cherokee 9 (Hurd 5), Storm Lake 11. Steals: Cherokee 10 (Farver 3, Grell 2), Storm Lake 3. Blocks: Cherokee 2 (Hurd 2), Storm Lake 2.