By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Braves (16-10) have found their range again. Following a rough shooting game (28 percent) in the Big Smoky Mountain Conference championship game last week, Cherokee, the #7 seed in the western Section, shot a much better 40 percent on Monday, Feb. 24 as they defeated #10 seed Bessemer City 72-56 in the first round of the 1A state playoffs.
“It was a great win for us,” said head coach Willis Tullos. “They (Bessemer) are a pretty athletic team. We played a lot better than last weekend.”
He said looking forward in the playoffs they have to be “ready to go and play our best ballgame”.
Dustin Johnson led the way for Cherokee with 23pts followed by Eli Littlejohn with 16. Littlejohn helped man the inside for the Braves against a tall, athletic Bessemer City team. In the process, he grabbed down 10 rebounds and had 3 blocked shots.
The Braves also had 9 total steals in the game with Jason McMillan, Darius Thompson, Jesse Toineeta, and Dustin Johnson having 2 each.
Cherokee started out strong in this game and led 16-9 after the first period. Bessemer City got things going in the second period though and outscored the Braves 24-15 to take a 33-31 lead into the locker room. That was short-lived however as the Braves came out in the second half firing and outscored the Yellow Jackets 20-11 in the third period and 21-12 in the fourth.
Other Braves scorers included: Jason McMillan 9, Brandt Sutton 4, Darius Thompson 8, and Jesse Toineeta 12.
Individual stats were not available for Bessemer City.
The Braves travel to Avery County for the 2nd round on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 6pm.
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