The Chiefs — despite falling behind 6-0 — sped out to a 16-8 lead over Hancock County and went on to take a 61-41 win in Friday’s physical game.
“We’re still trying to learn how to be a good basketball team,” Cherokee coach Trey Fields said. “Our kids were physical and we battled back when we fell down early.”
Cherokee was up 35-21 at halftime thanks to a combination of superb perimeter shooting and the use of the 1-3-1 trapping zone defense it also deployed in Thursday’s rout of Glenwood.
A barrage of 3-pointers from dynamic point guard Jason Sattler and Micah Jones was part of the Chiefs’ five first-half makes from beyond the arc. In the second half, which Cherokee opened with a 16-2 run, the Chiefs’ athleticism began to wear down the slightly undersized Indians.
Sattler led Cherokee with 22 points. Breiydon Gilliam, the team’s leading scorer, had 14.
“Last year when I started coaching (junior varsity), Jason was a little wild,” Fields said. “He has turned a complete 180 this year. He has taken ownership of this team since Connor (Metz) is out. He’s watched a lot of film and he’s starting to learn what he’s good at. He’s fast and he’s been putting in so much work. He comes in early and stays late just shooting.”
Chandler Ferguson led Hancock County with 10 points but had none in the second half. Hunter Hatfield, the Indians’ leading scorer, didn’t play.
The Chiefs cap off the tournament Saturday with a much-anticipated game with South Greene, the other 2-0 boys team in the Christmas Bash.
“South Greene is a very physical team and they guard their opponents well,” Fields said. “They have a certain system over there and that’s what we’re trying to build at Cherokee. We’re going to have to have a good shooting night and take care of the basketball. It will be a tough game for sure.”
South Greene 56, Glenwood 47
Down 17-14 after the first quarter, Alabama’s Glenwood gained its first lead of the tournament when the Gators went up 30-28 on a Bryce Rosier 3-pointer with less than a minute left in the first half, and they took that lead into the locker room.
South Greene responded to open the second half, outscoring Glenwood 17-0 in the third quarter for a 45-30 lead entering the final period.
Levi Myers scored 14 points and Chase Carter pitched in 12 for the Rebels. Rosier and Aladis Boyd finished with 16 each for the Gators.
Corbin 66, West Greene 42
In Friday’s opener, the Redhounds from Kentucky used a potent inside game to pull away in the second half.
Matthew Taylor led Corbin with 18 points. Big man Gavin Allen put up 10 of his 16 points in the second half.
Corbin committed only seven fouls and West Greene did not shoot a free throw. Kaeden Williams led the struggling Buffs with seven points.
Volunteer 62, Hancock County 25
The Lady Falcons scored the game’s first eight points and held a 17-1 lead after the opening quarter.
Lanie Dalton made a free throw with 3:21 left in the period for the Lady Indians’ point. Hancock County didn’t hit a field goal until 3:55 remained in the second quarter.
Volunteer led by 23 points, 32-9, at halftime and by as many as 38 in the second half.
Kenady Knittel totaled 15 points, hitting three 3-pointers, to lead Volunteer. Elise McKinney threw in 12 points.
Madison Jarnigan led Hancock County with nine points.
Volunteer 44, Betsy Layne 33
Playing three games in a 24-hour span is tough, but Volunteer showed its resilience in the nightcap of the Christmas Bash.
The Lady Falcons got out to an early lead, but both teams suffered through shooting slumps. After multiple scoreless stretches on both ends of the court, the Lady Falcons went into halftime up 20-17.
Volunteer led by five after a fairly even third quarter, but Kentucky’s Lady Bobcats pulled to within three with less than six minutes to play.
Three straight Knittel 3-pointers gave Volunteer a 10-point cushion, 40-30, with 3:54 left and Betsy Layne continued its outside shooting woes.
Knittel led the Lady Falcons with 19 points. Boyette, Kidd and Allie Jarvis each had nine for Betsy Layne.
Cherokee 44, Red Bird Christian 43, OT
Cherokee’s Sam Tilson sank the game-tying 3-pointer from the top of the key with 0.4 seconds left in overtime and drew a foul as time expired. She completed her hero turn by hitting the free throw with no time left to give the Lady Chiefs the wild win.
In last season’s two meetings between the teams, Cherokee won each time by 50-plus points. But Friday, the Lady Chiefs trailed for 95% of the game and played well for probably a cumulative 30 seconds — but came up big when it mattered.
With under five minutes left in regulation, Cherokee seized its first lead since the first quarter, going up 28-27 on three straight converted baskets off turnovers.
A crazy series of missed free throws on each end in the last minute saw Cherokee’s Gema Brooks with chance to win the game on a free throw with 7.1 seconds left, but she missed the shot and Red Bird missed the subsequent shot at the buzzer.
Alyssa Gibson, playing in obvious pain following an earlier collision, knocked down two free throws to give Kentucky’s Red Bird Christian a 43-40 lead with less than 20 seconds left in overtime.
Macy McDavid and Destiny Jarnigan each had 10 points to lead Cherokee. Tilson totaled six.
Gibson had a game-high 24 to lead Red Bird Christian.
Betsy Layne 56, Rye Cove 37
After a sluggish start for both teams, Betsy Layne got going midway through the opening period and held a 26-23 halftime lead. A string of Rye Cove turnovers allowed the Lady Bobcats to get a few transition buckets and pull ahead.
That trend continued in the third quarter when Betsy Layne went up by as much as 47-26 near the end of the period.
Katie Kidd had 16 points and Maddie Meade 11 for Betsy Layne. Sarah Cupova had a game-high 20 points to lead the Lady Eagles.