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Seniors 2020: Team-focused Norman part of building basketball tradition at Cherokee Bluff
Cherokee Bluff's Bosko Norman plays against Gainesville during a 2019 game in Flowery Branch. Photo by Lillian VanTassel

Bosko Norman surveyed the locker room at halftime.

He took time to reflect on the situation before vocalizing an opinion that floored his basketball coach Benjie Wood.

The play to start the third quarter was designed to get the ball into the hands of the Cherokee Bluff senior against Westminster in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs in Atlanta. However, Norman missed much of the second quarter with early foul trouble and was thinking ahead to being on the floor, if it was close down the stretch.

His solution?

Leave freshman Dre Raven, another physical big player, in the game to run the play designed for Norman. The play was crafted earlier in the week. It was pick-and-roll play with a pass outside to fellow senior Griffin Neville, who then would pass in it underneath the rim for the layup.

They were very confident the play would be successful. However, Norman was fine with missing out on the spotlight of cashing in on the basket.

“How many kids would do something like that?” Wood said. “But that’s the kind of kid Bosko is, wanting the best for the team.”

Norman voiced his opinion for the entire locker room to hear. The Bears’ senior said it clearly caught his coaches by surprise. However, they went with Norman’s preference to keep the much younger Raven in to run the designed play to open the second half.

And the play worked just like they hoped. Raven was right there for the basket. Norman was satisfied with making the right decision for the team.

The rest was smooth sailing for the Bears, who went on to a convincing 61-51 playoff victory, the first in program history, to open the 2020 postseason.

Norman felt totally validated in his move to start a tradition at Cherokee Bluff when he took a bounce pass from Neville for the dunk in the final seconds of the victory, setting their fans into a loud celebration at the visiting gym.

“It was heartwarming to see the way everyone was cheering,” said Norman. “It made me realize how happy I was with my decision to go to Cherokee Bluff.”

In two years, Norman leaves the Cherokee Bluff program as one of its first leaders, emerging fast as a standout after moving in from Banks County. In 2020, he finished his career averaging 14 points and 3 assists per game and had the full respect of Wood, a coach who is not going to heave praise on a player just to make them feel good about themselves.

Norman had the respect of the entire student body too, earning the distinction of homecoming king for Cherokee Bluff.

“I can’t say enough good things about Bosko,” said Wood. “He’s a great athlete and a genuinely good kid.”

Norman remains unsigned to play college basketball but has his coach working during the summer, trying to navigate the obstacles in play due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to make sure one of his top players has a school to call home in the fall.

Hampered with off-and-on back pain all season, Norman was one of the catalysts to its playoff run and upset first-round playoff victory against Westminster.

Even when the playoff stage got bigger with a second-round trip to face a stout Windsor Forest squad in Savannah, it didn’t take away Norman’s leadership and perspective he brought to Cherokee Bluff.

He wanted everyone to stay loose and have fun.

However, when it was time to take care of business, he wanted to set an example for a Bears’ squad that played a trio of freshmen for much of the season due to injuries.

Prior to film study for the Sweet 16 game in Savannah, Norman lightened the mood of the hotel room by belting out Luke Combs’ country-hit ‘She Got the Best of Me’ for those in the room. They worked on it while making the long trip to south Georgia.

“Bosko has a great personality and really has a knack for working with the younger guys,” Wood said.

Wood’s impact on Norman is tangible.

The recent graduate now wants to pursue a career in coaching the next generation. Norman said one of his favorite activities is working with youth teams that his father, Vodus, coaches.

Norman described himself as more of an introvert during his time at Cherokee Bluff, leading up to being surprised as the 2019 homecoming king.

He was asked to come to the front office to sign forms that he was going to be on the ballot for the award bestowed during halftime of one of the football games. Norman thought it would be nice to win but didn’t think he really had a chance. He thought of himself as primarily a basketball player and not necessarily the most popular guy on campus.

Norman thought it was such a longshot that he didn’t even go to the office to have his name on the ballot.

He thought no way he could win. So why bother?

However, his mother Tiffany told him he should follow through with the homecoming voting process.

Norman’s glad he did.

Also a wide receiver for the football team, Norman was shocked to hear his name called as homecoming king over the stadium loudspeakers.

One of the most well-regarded members of the student body at Cherokee Bluff, Norman said he’s grown immensely as a person during his time as one of the first athletes to come through the new school in Flowery Branch.

“I love everyone at Cherokee Bluff,” Norman said. “Going there is probably the best decision I’ve made in my life.”

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