By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
When the Charles George Memorial Arena is as full as it was on the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 10, you know it is either a playoff game or rival Swain County has come to town. The latter was the case as the Cherokee varsity basketball teams opened their 2019-20 Big Smoky Mountain Conference campaigns. The Lady Braves (2-2, 1-0 BSMC) got things going with a big 73-47 win. The Braves (2-1, 0-1 BSMC) started out well but fell short in the end 80-69 to the Maroon Devils.
Lady Braves 73 Swain County 47
Swain County started out quickly in this game and jumped out to a 4-0 lead early on, but the Lady Braves got it going and ended up leading 15-12 at the end of the first period. Three minutes into the second, Cherokee led 23-20 and then went on an 11-5 run to lead 34-25 at the half.
The third period was all Cherokee, and the Lady Braves went on a 10-1 run in the first three minutes. For the period, Cherokee outscored Swain County 21-7 to take a commanding 55-32 lead at the end of the third. Cherokee kept cruising in the fourth en route to a large 73-47 win.
The Lady Braves were led by Deante Toineeta with 21 points followed by Vivian Ross 12 and Rhyan Girty 10. Other Lady Braves scorers included: Aiyanna Lambert 9, Naomi Smith 7, Jordyn Martin 6, Kamia Wiggins 4, and Tierney Bradley 2.
The Lady Maroon Devils were led by Mazie Helpman with 20 points, followed by Savannah Smith with 12. Other Swain County scorers included: Ashton Younce 2, Amaya Hicks 4, Bri Ross 2, Kiersten Smith 2, Haileigh Woodard 3, and Hannah Brown 2.
Swain County 80 Braves 69
This game started out very slowly for both teams with Cherokee leading 1-0 after the first two minutes. With three minutes left in the first period, Cherokee had built a 15-7 lead and they led 20-14 at the end of the first. Cherokee kept a 5- or 6- point lead through the first six minutes of the second period. Swain took the lead with just over two minutes left before the half and led 29-26 going into the locker room.
The Maroon Devils came out of the locker room on fire and outscored the Braves 11-5 in the first three minutes and led by 14 points (51-37) with 2:30 left in the third. Swain County led 60-45 at the end of the third.
Swain County kept their double-digit lead for the majority of the fourth period. With just under three minutes remaining in the game, the Braves caught fire and went on an 8-1 run only trailing 71-65 with 2:38 left. But, several missed shots at the end cost the Braves and Swain County held on for the 80-69 win.
Sterling Santa Maria led the way for the Braves with 22 points followed by Jordan Arkansas 12 and Treannie Larch 10. Other Braves scorers included: Chris Johnson 7, Sarron Johnson 2, Bobby Crowe 6, Don Bradley 4, and Dawson Bradley 6.
Donnavin Groenewold led the Maroon Devils with 27 points followed by Judaiah Littlejohn with 18. Other Swain County scorers included: Connor Hyatt 4, Aiden Pond 4, Gaige Jones 4, Noel Wolfe 8, Isaiah Collins 7, and Nick Millsaps 8.