The Cheney girls’ basketball team ended one of their more difficult weeks of the season with one of their most convincing wins of the 2012-2013 campaign. The Lady Hawks employed a smothering full court man defense to break open a close game and cruise to a 52-24 road win over Medical Lake in the annual Golden Feather Spirit Game Saturday night.
The Lady Cards trailed by two points at the end of the first quarter, and led 14-13 early in the second when Cheney jumped on the gas. After regaining the lead at 15-14, forward Coreen Labish hit a 3-pointer from the corner, followed by a pair of steals by guard Chae Brown and one from Kendyl Cone that turned into easy lay-ins.
It was the beginning of a 20-0 run by the Lady Hawks that stretched to the 3 minute, 41 second mark of the third quarter, ended when Medical Lake’s Kelby Wagner hit 1 of 2 free throws making the score 33-15. The Lady Cards eventually cut Cheney’s margin to 33-21, but senior Sami Sheffels scored on an offensive rebound put back and Cone and Brown again stole the ball at mid-court for easy lay-ins – Brown’s at the buzzer – to stretch the lead back to 18 and pulled away from there.
Cheney head coach Jennifer Harmer said she was concerned how her team would respond 24 hours after an emotional loss at West Valley and especially since only three of her players had ever played in the emotion-fueled atmosphere of the spirit game.
“They played together, team basketball, blocked out and pushed the ball up the floor,” Harmer said in an email Tuesday. “Our man defense was looking much better and I was proud of how they played.”
Brown had a game-high 16 points, a good chunk coming on five steals for easy lay-ins, with Labish knocking down 12 – including a pair of 3s – and Cone adding 10. Cheney had 18 steals and shot 44.7 percent from the field, with 32 rebounds and 12 turnovers
The win capped a difficult week for the Lady Hawks with losses to league-leaders Pullman (8-1, 12-5) and West Valley (7-1, 11-5). Tuesday Cheney seemed to be in the officials’ doghouse, getting hit with 14 first-half fouls to Pullman’s two, helping the Greyhounds stake a 32-17 halftime.
Both Harmer and assistant coach Lee Brown received technical fouls in the first half for protesting some of the calls, with Brown’s two forcing him to leave the game. The Lady Hawks rallied, but came up short in the 62-52 loss.
“Pullman was emotional, but our girls finished the game extremely well and left their hearts out on the court,” Harmer said.
Darien Brophy’s 14 points led Cheney with Labish adding 13 and Brown 11.
Per national rules neither Harmer nor Brown were available to coach Friday night at West Valley, leaving assistant coach Shannon Root to fill in, doing what Harmer said was a “great job.” The Lady Hawks battled the Eagles evenly in the first half, but couldn’t keep pace as West Valley outscored Cheney 39-23 in the second for the 69-53 win.
Labish was tied with West Valley’s Erin Higbie for high scorer, both with 18, while Brown added 16 for Cheney.
The Lady Hawks enter the last seven days of the regular season at 3-6 in Great Northern League play, 6-10 overall, with an outside chance to move up from their fifth-place slot. Cheney visited third-place East Valley (6-3, 12-5) Tuesday, and hosts fourth-place Colville (5-3, 9-7) Thursday and sixth-place Clarkston (1-7, 3-13) next Tuesday in the finale.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.