The Cherokee Bluff boys basketball team came out hot Friday night in its home contest against Drew Charter School, going up by as much as 16 points in the first half of the game. But late struggles doomed the Bears, as the team managed only 1 point over the final seven minutes of game time, falling 52-49 to go to 1-2 on the season.
“We started off well because we were playing as a team,” Cherokee Bluff coach Benjie Wood said. “Then we decided we were going to play as individuals.”
The Bears were dominant throughout the opening quarter of the game, starting things off with a 5-0 run while keeping Drew Charter off the scoreboard entirely for the first three minutes of the tilt. Bosko Norman extended the lead to 13-2 when he hit on a 3-point shot with a foul with three minutes to go in the opening frame, forcing Drew Charter into taking a timeout.
The game was a bit more back-and-forth from there, with the teams exchanging baskets for much of the second quarter, but Cherokee Bluff’s large lead to start the game off kept it comfortably ahead going into the halftime break.
Drew Charter brought a completely different level of energy to the second half.
The Eagles scored the first six points of the third frame, cutting the Bears’ lead in half right off the get-go. And an 11-3 run for Drew Charter that ran through the middle part of the quarter brought the visiting team to within a single point, and the trend continued into the final eight minutes of the game.
Cherokee Bluff got a couple quick baskets from Griffin Neville to earn some breathing room, but it was all Eagles from there.
Drew Charter clamped down on defense, preventing the Bears from making a single shot from the field over the last seven minutes of the game. Cherokee Bluff still held a 1-point advantage with only a minute remaining, but a free throw from Cedric Taylor and a 3-pointer from Charles Freeman with only five second remaining gave the Eagles their first lead of the game in the most crucial moment.
The Bears took a timeout to draw up a play, but threw away the ensuing in-bound, sealing the defeat.
LOGANVILLE GIRLS 55, CHEROKEE BLUFF 40: The Lady Bears kept things close with the visiting Lady Devils for three quarters, but Loganville proved to be too much, as it distanced itself in the fourth to pull out the win.
Timber Gaither led the way, scoring 21 points for Cherokee Bluff, including 15 in the second half, but the effort was not enough to keep pace with the Lady Red Devils. Despite the defeat, Lady Bears coach Lindsay Justice said the performance was an encouraging one.
“We have experience on our team with Timber and Madi, but other than that, we’re really young,” she said. “We’re playing people that have never stepped foot on a varsity court until right now being expected to play a lot of minutes. I know that the scoreboard doesn’t show it, but overall, as a team, and the turnover count and all that was much better this game.”
Cherokee Bluff actually started off leading in the game, thanks to a big 3-pointer from Gaither and a couple of quick baskets from Brandyn Peterson all coming around the midpoint of the opening quarter. The Lady Bears took a 13-12 advantage into the second.
But Loganville gained steadily from there, going on top by 3 points at halftime, and 8 points after the third quarter. A 9-2 run through the bulk of the final frame pushed the Lady Red Devils out of reach, as Cherokee Bluff dropped the contest to go to 1-2.
“The effort was there,” Justice said. “We’ve just got to get better and keep working experience-wise and skill-wise. We’ll get there.”