Cheney Free Press -

By John McCallum

Blackhawks need rallies for wins

Cheney tops East Valley, Colville but comes up short of win in overtime against West Valley


John McCallum

Cheney’s Kennan Williams, smothered by a pair of West Valley players including Brady Berman (14), looks to shoot during Friday night’s game.

Cheney boys basketball head coach Joel Soter thinks if his Blackhawks can start games quicker offensively, they may not need to rally so furiously at the end.

As evidence one can look at last week’s box scores where the Blackhawks, while going 2-1, split a pair of overtime games with East and West Valley and needed a big fourth quarter to get out of Colville with a nine-point win. Cheney’s need for early leads can best be illustrated by Friday’s home contest with the Eagles where the Blackhawks rallied to force overtime, only to miss a golden opportunity to strengthen their second-place league standing by falling 70-61 to the visitors from Millwood.

Twice Cheney rallied from nine-point, second half deficits, the final one at the 4:14 mark trailing 53-44. Baskets by H.D. Wyborney and Kennan Williams and free throws by Eric Igbinoba pulled Cheney to within 53-50 with 40 seconds left, but West Valley’s Tyler Stavnes hit the front end of a 1-and-1, and after Igbinoba canned a 12-foot jumper, Jake Love hit the front end of a 1-and-1 to put the Eagles up 55-52 with 13 seconds left.

Enter sophomore Alex Berman who, after a Cheney timeout, found his way along the baseline on the right side of the basket, and with an Eagles defender so close he was practically inside his jersey, nailed a falling back, 3-pointer off the backboard at the buzzer to force overtime.

“It wasn’t exactly the play I called for, but I’ll take it,” Soter said.

But in overtime Cheney turnovers and West Valley (2-2 Great Northern League, 9-3 overall) free throw shooting proved decisive. Twice Love stole the ball and converted the errors for points, while Stavnes and Devante Dickerson combined to go 7 for 7 from the charity stripe to ice the Eagles win.

Wyborney led Cheney with 23 points while Igbinoba and Berman added 14 and 11 each. The Blackhawks out shot West Valley 38 to 36 percent from the field, but not from the line where the Eagles went 26 for 33, 79 percent, and Cheney was 14 for 26, 54 percent.

Wyborney had 14 rebounds with Williams collecting 10 although the Eagles won the board war 43-40, 15-14 on the offensive glass. Cheney committed 15 turnovers to West Valley’s 12.

Tuesday it was Cheney on top in an extra frame against visiting East Valley (3-2, 7-6). After falling behind 11-4 in the first eight minutes the Blackhawks responded by winning the final three quarters to force OT tied at 38.

In the extra frame Berman had five points and Wyborney four to lead Cheney to the 51-43 win, the key Soter said being the Blackhawks attacked the basket more aggressively.

“I felt like finally in overtime this was what we should’ve been doing at the beginning of the game,” Soter said.

Wyborney had 15 points and nine rebounds, with Williams adding 12 points and 10 rebounds – six offensively – and Berman 11 points. Cheney out shot East Valley 38 to 34 percent, but was just 12 of 20 from the line, 60 percent, and committed 12 turnovers to the Knights 18.

Saturday in Colville (1-3, 5-7), Cheney again spotted their opponent a lead, falling behind 26-18 at the break. But in the second half the Blackhawks rallied, and this time free throw shooting helped lead the way. Cheney outscored the Indians 22-7 in the fourth quarter, including going 9 for 11 from the line for the 56-47 win.

Wyborney had 19 points and 13 rebounds while Berman added 11 points and Theo Petropoulos seven. Cheney committed just eight turnovers to Colville’s 13.

Cheney sits in second place in the league at 3-2, 7-5 overall. They’ve got opportunities this week to gain a little separation from the pack with a pair of road games, Friday against a young Clarkston (2-2, 8-4) team and Saturday as they begin round two in Deer Park, (0-4, 4-8).

John McCallum can be reached at


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