If there is such a thing as a good loss, Friday’s 2-point defeat at the hands of 1A state runner-up Freeman may be a benefit to a young Cheney girls’ basketball team.
The Lady Hawks scratched back from a 10-point first half deficit to take a late lead against the Scotties, and had a chance of winning in the final seconds, only to come up short of an upset in the 58-56 loss.
“I was proud of the girls down the stretch, they executed the game plan well for the most part,” head coach Jennifer Harmer said.
Foul trouble and a lack of rebounding hurt the Lady Hawks in the first half. Freeman hit a couple 3-point shots to go up 30-20 with under four minutes to pay in the second quarter, but the Lady Hawks responded, Kendyl Cone’s 2-pointer just before the break capping an 8-4 run to pull Cheney within 34-28.
The Lady Hawks started fast in the third, opening with a 7-2 run as Chae Brown’s 4-foot jumper at the 4:10 mark brought Cheney within one at 36-35. But Freeman responded with a 6-0 run and finished the quarter up seven.
In the fourth the Lady Hawks kept the margin within 1-3 points until Brown’s two free throws tied it at 52 with 1:37 to play. Cone gave Cheney its first lead at 54-52, grabbing an offensive rebound, dribbling under the basket along the baseline and hooking in a 5-footer with 52 seconds on the clock.
Haley Burke’s basket tied it for the Scotties (4-0) at 54, with Lady Hawks’ senior Sami Sheffels short jumper putting Cheney back in the lead on the next possession. With 13 seconds to play, Freeman junior post Sierra McGarity drove the lane for a basket and was fouled, converting the free throw for a 57-56 lead.
Harmer called time out to set up a final play, with Brown eventually getting off a tough, running hook along the baseline that just rimmed off. Freeman’s Alisha Sorenson grabbed the rebound, was fouled and hit one of two shots for the final margin.
Brown led all scorers with 15 points while Darien Brophy added 14, Cone 12 and Coreen Labish 9 to go with seven blocks. Harmer said the difference in the second half was a re-emphasis on rebounding and taking care of the ball.
“Darien and Sami really stepped up and helped on the boards in the second half,” she said.
The Lady Hawks fall to 1-2 in preseason play, both losses being close affairs against 2A Ellensburg and Freeman. Both have revealed aspects of Cheney’s game Harmer and company get to work on over the next week before taking on Northeast A Lakeside Dec. 19.
“We need to improve in our late game play as far as fouls and finishing shots,” she said. “With experience we will clean up these areas and be able to finish out games.”
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.