By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Braves (18-3, 10-1) didn’t lead in Friday’s home game against Rosman (14-7, 8-3) until the last 1:46 of the contest. Cherokee, who trailed by as much as 20 points in the game, hit some key free throws late to win a thriller over the Tigers 84-83.
“I was afraid it was going to be this kind of ballgame,” said Willis Tullos, Braves head coach. “They (Rosman) shoot the ball really well, and they did tonight. They played well, and we came back and played well.”
Coach Tullos made some defensive adjustments in the game, “We picked up our intensity on our man-to-man, and that made it harder for them to shoot the three. And, if you give them room, they can shoot the three, but we went man-to-man on them, and that was the difference in the ballgame.”
The Braves had three players in the 20-point range. They were led by Justus Day, sophomore forward, with 24 points, 1 assist, 2 rebounds and 2 steals. Jason McMillan, senior point guard, had 20 points, 3 assists, 7 rebounds and 5 steals. Tye Mintz, sophomore forward, also had 20 points along with 2 assists, 9 rebounds and 1 steal.
For the game, Cherokee actually outshot Rosman 51 percent (22 of 43) to 45 percent (15 of 33) from the field. But, the Braves’ usually potent three-point game was off as they only hit 23 percent (9 of 40).
Rosman jumped out early in this game and hit two three-pointers early to take a 6-0 lead just over a minute in. The Braves had shooting problems early and trailed 23-5 with just over three minutes left in the first. By the end of the period, Rosman led 29-13.
Cherokee got going a little in the beginning of the second period and cut into Rosman’s lead (36-23) at the 5:35 mark. After trailing by as much as 20 points in the period, Cherokee was able to cut the Tigers’ lead to 9 (49-40) at the half as McMillan caught a long pass and made a layup with five seconds left before the break.
Rosman got a quick four points in the third period to extend their lead back to 13 points (53-40) in the first 38 seconds of the second half. Their lead hovered around 10-11 points for most of the third until Logan Teesateskie, Braves senior forward, hit a three-point shot from the top of the key with 1:04 left in the third to cut the Rosman lead to 64-57, the smallest margin since the first two minutes of the game.
But, the Tigers exploded for 7 points in the last minute to take a 71-57 lead into the fourth period.
The Braves man-to-man defense really kicked in, and Cherokee began to get some turnovers which translated into points. Rosman’s lead was whittled back down to 7 points (71-64) at the 5:44 mark.
Cherokee kept chipping away at the lead which stood at 3 points (77-74) with 3:50 left in the game and only 1 point (78-77) 48 seconds later.
Day tied the game at 78 after hitting a foul shot with 2:14 to go.
Then, Cherokee finally took the lead at 80-78 as Holden Straughan, Braves sophomore forward, drove the baseline for two with 1:46 left. For the night, Straughan had 10 points and 2 assists.
In the last minute of the game, Day and Mintz both hit two free throws and Rosman hit a three-pointer and a couple of free throws to make it 84-83, and the Tigers got a shot off at the buzzer from just off the top of the key, but it missed and Cherokee took the 1-point win.
Other Cherokee scorers included: Kennan Panther 5, Cory Junaluska 2 and Logan Teesateskie 3.
Rosman was led by Deland Thomas with 28 points followed by Zach Stroup 20 and Tanner Green 16.
To view or purchase photos from this game, visit: https://onefeather.smugmug.com/SPORTS/BASKETBALL/BRAVES-BASKETBALL-201516/Vs-Rosman-February-5/