By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
LINCOLNTON – The Cherokee Braves (25-4) ended their season in a fast-paced, high-scoring game against the Lincoln Charter Eagles (29-3) in the 1A West Regional semifinals on Tuesday, March 1. After trailing by as many as 24 points in the third period, the Braves came back to within six points by the fourth, but couldn’t close the gap entirely as the Eagles topped them 101-88 in a game played at North Lincoln High School due to the size of the expected crowd.
Justus Day, Braves sophomore forward, led Cherokee with 28 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound and 1 block. He was followed by senior point guard Jason McMillan, playing in his last game as a Brave, with 20 pts, 2 assists, 1 reb and 4 steals.
“The boys I love with all of my heart are hurting right now, and I can’t do anything to change that,” Willis Tullos, Braves head coach, said after the game. “We’ll think about a great season once this quits hurting so bad. My kids fought as hard as they could fight. They gave it all they had, and I can’t ask for any more than that.”
On the night, the Braves shot 18 of 31 (58 percent) from the field, 13 of 45 (29 percent) from three-point land and 13 of 25 (52 percent) from the free throw line. With the 13 three-point shots made, the Braves expanded their state record for most three-point shots made by a team in a season to 330.
Lincoln Charter, led by Kody Shupert with 34 points, shot 24 of 35 (69 percent) from the field, 7 of 24 (29 percent) on three-point shots and 32 of 49 (65 percent) from the charity stripe.
The game started quickly with both teams hitting shots early. Cherokee took an 8-5 lead just two minutes in. The Eagles tied it up at 11-11 midway through the first period. From that point, Lincoln Charter went on a 14-4 run to take a 10-point (25-15) lead with 1:34 left in the first. The remainder of the period was just about even, and the Eagles led 29-20 after one.
Lincoln Charter outscored Cherokee 23-14 in the second period and took an 18-point (52-34) lead into the locker room.
The first few minutes of the third were just about even and the Eagles led 62-42 at the 5:00 mark. From that point, Cherokee went on a 10-4 run to cut the lead to 66-52 with just less than two minutes left in the period.
The Braves outscored Lincoln Charter 7-2 in the next two minutes to trail 68-59 as time ticked down on the third. With time running out, McMillan got the ball, took two steps over the half-court line and shot just before the buzzer…swoosh! The Braves trailed by six (68-62) going into the final eight.
In the fourth, Lincoln Charter began to hit some shots again and extended their lead to 10 points (78-68) at the 5:17 mark and 12 points (91-79) with 2:11 left.
As the game winded down, Cherokee was forced to foul and the Eagles were able to hold on for the 101-88 win.
Other Braves statistics included: Tye Mintz 18 pts, 2 assists, 9 reb, 4 blocks, 1 steal; Jeff Girty 1 pt; Steven Straughan 9pts; Kennan Panther 6 pts, 1 reb, 1 steal; Holden Straughan 2 pts, 2 assists, 2 reb; Isaiah Evans 1 pt; and Logan Teesateskie 3 pts, 1 assist, 1 reb, 1 steal.
Full stats were not available for Lincoln Charter.
To view or purchase photos from this game, visit: https://onefeather.smugmug.com/SPORTS/BASKETBALL/BRAVES-BASKETBALL-201516/At-Lincoln-Charter-1A-West/i-GxVRJqh