BASKETBALL: Braves take second at Holidays tournament
By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Cherokee Braves (8-3) averaged 94 points per game as they took second place at the Holidays on the Hardwood Tournament held Dec. 21-23 at the Charles George Memorial Arena. After defeating Cosby (Tenn.) 106-80 and Asheville 84-78 in the first two rounds, they lost to the Greenville (SC) Red Raiders 101-92 in a foul-ridden final.
“I thought we did a great job throughout the tournament,” Willis Tullos, Braves head coach, said after the final game on Wednesday. “We played a really good basketball team tonight. A lot of things happened, and the referees let it get out of hand. But, my kids didn’t back down. We didn’t run from nobody, and I’m proud of them.”
Greenville’s Charlie Francis was named the Tournament MVP and named to the All-Tournament Team along with: Jason McMillan, Cherokee; Justus Day, Cherokee; Tye Mintz, Cherokee; Mikell Jones, Greenville; Darius Johnson, Greenville; and Damon Scott, Asheville.
Day led Cherokee with 84 points in the tournament including a whopping 37 in the final. McMillan had 79 points in the tournament and Mintz had 31.
Coach Tullos said his team gained confidence in the tournament. “We beat a really good team in Asheville, and Cosby wasn’t a bad team either. We lost to a team tonight…our enrollment is 278 and theirs is 1,643 so we feel like we can play with anybody.”
In the final, a total of five Braves fouled out in a game that wasn’t decided until the final minute. After trailing by as many as 15 points in the second period, Cherokee came back and tied the game (51-51) a couple of minutes into the third. The score went back and forth and the Braves kept the game to within two or three points until late in the game when their starters began fouling out and the Red Raiders took the championship 101-92.
The night before, Cherokee played a strong Asheville team in a game that also wasn’t decided until the final minute. Day led the Braves with 27 points followed by McMillan 23 and Holden Straughan 11. The first two periods were just about even. Asheville led 18-16 after the first period, and after a tough second period for both squads, McMillan hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to tie the game at 39-39 at halftime.
Both teams lit it up in the third period, but the Braves outscored Asheville by four to take a 61-57 lead into the final eight minutes. It was back and forth for the final period, but Cherokee held its composure and Holden Straughan, Day and Mintz hit key free throws in the final 28 seconds to seal the 84-78 victory.
In this game, Cherokee shot 55 percent from the floor (21/38) Asheville shot 47 percent (21/45).
The Braves got a good start in this tournament with a big 106-80 win over the Cosby (Tenn.) Eagles) on Monday, Dec. 21. McMillan (31) and Day (20) combined for almost half of Cherokee’s points as the Braves broke the century mark.
Cherokee never trailed in this game, and they shot 55 percent (28/51) from the floor and 68 percent (17/25) from the free throw line while holding Cosby to 45 percent (20/44) from the floor. The Braves had 14 steals in this game with McMillan and Mintz leading the way with 4 each followed by Day 2, Panther 2, Evans 1 and Junaluska 1.
Full tournament results by round:
Cherokee 106 Cosby (Tenn.) 80
Hayesville 75 Owen 54
Greenville 77 N. Buncombe 72
Asheville 86 Polk Co. 61
Cherokee 84 Asheville 78
N. Buncombe 91 Owen 68
Cosby 88 Polk Co. 83
Greenville 70 Hayesville 61
Greenville 101 Cherokee 92 (Finals)
Asheville 80 Hayesville 69 (Third Place Game)
N. Buncombe 103 Cosby 74
Owen 78 Polk Co. 48
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