January 17, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 39

Injuries play part in Lady Hawks’ losses

Some of the Cheney girls’ basketball team’s woes last week can be boiled down to one word – injuries.

John McCallum
Cheney’s Chae Brown and Coreen Labish battle a pair of West Valley players for a loose ball Friday night.

Injuries forced head coach Jennifer Harmer to jockey players around to different positions looking for working combinations on a squad that is dealing also with youth and varsity inexperience. Top it off with two of three games against the top two teams in the Great Northern League, and it was a recipe for three losses, four straight now for the Lady Hawks.

Chae Brown, Cheney’s only returning starter from last year, saw limited duty in returning from a shoulder injury in the Lady Hawks’ 58-40 loss to visiting second place East Valley Tuesday. Brown is a key player in what makes Cheney go, providing scoring and quickness on both sides of the ball, and the Lady Hawks struggled at first to find her replacement against the Knights quick, fast-paced and scrappy guards.

The Lady Hawks trailed 17-4 after one quarter, 36-14 at the half and never really challenged, despite playing East Valley (4-1, 10-3) pretty evenly in the second half. Sophomore Coreen Labish led the Lady Hawks with 11 points to go with 15 blocks, while Samantha Sheffels added eight points and 12 rebounds. Cheney shot just 31 percent from the field, but managed to haul in 40 rebounds.

The game Harmer said she’d like to have back, a potential win that got away, was Friday’s home hookup with GNL-leading West Valley, 4-0, 8-4. The Lady Hawks kept the Eagles within range in the first half, tied at 12 after one and trailing 27-25 on Megan McDowell’s lay up with 10 seconds before the half.

Brown’s jumper tied the game at 27 early in the third but from there West Valley gained separation with a series of runs, starting with six straight points after Brown’s basket that gave them a 33-27 lead, which they held onto heading into the fourth quarter up 45-39. They stretched that to 52-39 with 5:40 to play in the game and 56-41 at the 3:55 mark. Cheney rallied, outscoring West Valley 10-2 down the stretch but fell short in the 58-51 loss.

Brown led Cheney with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists and four steals, an effort drawing praise from Harmer.

“She didn’t practice all week and she comes back and gets 18,” Harmer said. “I’m proud of her.”

Darien Brophy added 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting from two point range, while Labish had six points to go with five rebounds and 10 blocks, moving out from her forward position to play the two-guard spot in place of Kendyl Cone, who went down with an ankle injury against East Valley and is questionable.

Cheney was a much better 50 percent shooting from the field, but just 44 percent, 7 of 16 from the free throw line.

“That is definitely a game we thought we could get,” Harmer said.

One game that doesn’t sit well with her is Saturday’s 53-35 loss at Colville. The Indians are a good team, she said, but Cheney’s short bench and an officiating crew that covered both the girls and boys games provided some assistance. The Lady Hawks fell behind 31-17 at the break and got no closer.

Labish led Cheney with 14 points, five rebounds and seven blocks while Brown added nine points and Brophy collected six boards. Cheney was a cold 37.5 percent from the field, 12 for 32 and 42.9 percent, 9 for 21, at the line.

The Lady Hawks (1-4, 3-8) get a little time this week to heal and regroup. Cheney had a bye Tuesday, travels to Clarkston (1-3, 3-9) Friday and then begins the second round of league play with a trip to Deer Park (0-4, 0-12) Saturday.

Harmer’s not sure what to expect from Clarkston, with a young team and new coach, while the Lady Hawks’ only league win came against the Stags Jan. 3.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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