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Cherokee Bluff boys bow out in second round of basketball playoffs with 70-41 loss to Hart County
Cherokee Bluff's Jaylon Justice puts up a 3-point shot against Hart County during the Class 3A state tournament second-round matchup between the teams on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Hart County High School. - photo by Nathan Berg

The Cherokee Bluff boys basketball team’s Class 3A state tournament run came to an end Saturday evening with a 70-41 defeat at the hands of Hart County in the second round. The top-seeded Bulldogs battered the Bears with 3-point shots throughout the contest, pouring in 12 over the course of the game. It wasn’t the game plan Cherokee Bluff coach Benjie Wood was expecting to play against, but it was effective nonetheless.

“They’re averaging four 3s a game and they made nine 3s in the first half,” Wood said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to shake a man’s hand.”

Cherokee Bluff kept pace with Hart County for about a quarter and a half, but things started to get out of hand halfway through the second frame. Bulldogs guard Johnny Curry got hot from behind the arc, hitting on a trio of consecutive 3-point shots that put the Bears down by 10 and forced Wood into taking a timeout. 

Hart County was up by 13 by halftime, and then started the third quarter on a 9-3 run that continued to put the game further out of reach. A Curry dunk to close out the third frame put the Bulldogs on top by 20 points, and it never got closer than that. 

After the game, Wood said the loss would be tough to handle for him and his players, but that the Bears would not be dwelling on it. 

“I’m proud of the guys,” he said. “We’ve come a long way. We’ve overcome a lot of things. It’s sad to end this way. But we’ll go in and talk to them. Tomorrow’s a new day. We’ll step up and try to continue to get better and build from this."