By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
BRYSON CITY – The Braves (15-9) and Lady Braves (22-2), both #1 seeds in the tournament, advanced to the finals of the Big Smoky Mountain Conference tournament with wins in the semi-final round on Thursday, Feb. 20 at Swain County High School. The Braves defeated #5 seed Andrews 51-45, and the Lady Braves defeated #5 seed Murphy 73-52.
Lady Braves 73 Murphy 52
The Lady Braves came out running in this game and built up a 28-10 lead after the first period. The Lady Bulldogs got a little more offense going in the second quarter, but not much more as Cherokee took a 47-24 lead into the locker room. The second half was a little more even with Murphy actually outscoring Cherokee by two points, but the first half lead was too much for them to overcome and the Lady Braves won by 21.
Avery Mintz led Cherokee with 19pts followed by Kendall Toineeta with 14. Toineeta also had 7 assists and 7 steals in the game. Overall, Cherokee had 17 steals in the game. That, combined with Murphy’s 29 turnovers, made for a nice possession game for the Lady Braves.
Other Cherokee scorers included: LeLe Lossiah 9, Bree Stamper 8, Miranda Smith 3, Brionna Jumper 10, Peri Wildcatt 5, and Taran Swimmer 5.
Murphy’s scorers included: Amy Trull 1, Katie Moss 2, Mich King 2, Leah Palmer 2, Sarah Nicely 6, Haley Chastain 8, Emma Stroup 7, Hannah Carson 16, Hannah Setser 3, and Kendra Henry 5.
The Lady Braves had a bye into the semi-final round. Murphy defeated #4 seed Rosman 67-53 to advance to the semis.
Cherokee will take on Hayesville on Friday, Feb. 21 at 7pm in the finals.
Braves 51 Andrews 45
This game was tight in the first half with the Braves taking a slim 12-11 lead after the first period. The second period was deadlocked at 11pts each, and Cherokee took that 1pt lead into the locker room.
The third period was a different ballgame. Cherokee came out on fire and doubled Andrews’ points in the period 16-8 to go up 39-30.
Andrews came back and got to within 3pts at several times in the fourth period. The game changer came with 12 seconds left. Cherokee was up 49-45 and Andrews had the ball when Darius Thompson stole the ball and drove down for a layup with 9 seconds left to seal the game for the Braves.
Thompson led the Braves with 16pts followed by Jason McMillan with 13. Cherokee had 14 steals in the game including 4 by McMillan and 3 by Thompson.
Other Cherokee scorers included: Brandt Sutton 4, Jesse Toineeta 3, Dustin Johnson 11, and Silas Reed-Littlejohn 4.
Andrews scorers included: Chase Hardin 8, Dakota Bateman 2, Jacob Whitaker 9, Seth Pyle 11, and Aaron DeVore 15.
The Braves had a bye into the semi-final round. Andrews narrowly defeated Murphy 49-48 to advance to the semis.
Cherokee will take on Robbinsville on Friday, Feb. 21 at 8:30pm in the finals.
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