The Cheney girls’ basketball team found out last week that when you take care of the ball, and you don’t foul, you’re likely to end up in the win column.
The Lady Hawks committed 26 turnovers and 18 fouls last Tuesday at East Valley. Result: A 64-40 Knights’ win.
Thursday Cheney turned the ball over 12 times and committed just nine fouls against visiting Colville. Result: A big 50-45 Lady Hawks win.
“That’s what we need to key on, taking care of the ball,” head coach Jennifer Harmer said.
Tuesday the Lady Hawks took a hard-fought 28-27 lead over the third-place Knights (7-4, 13-6) with them into the halftime locker room. Trouble was that’s where that lead stayed as the Knights outscored Cheney 37-12 in the final 16 minutes, with 16 of Cheney’s 26 turnovers playing a contributing role.
Coreen Labish led all scorers with 19 points – East Valley had nobody in double digits, but 10 players scoring between 4-9 points – while hauling down nine rebounds and 10 blocks. Samantha Sheffels had seven points and seven rebounds. Cheney shot 48.5 percent from the field and was just 5 for 8 from the free throw line.
Thursday the Lady Hawks had good looks at the basket in the first half, but couldn’t get anything to drop, falling behind 25-17 at the break with the fourth-place Indians (5-6, 9-10). In the second half, it was a different story as both teams matched their combined first quarter offensive output – 16 points – in the first two-plus minutes of the third.
Cheney took its first lead, 35-34, on Chae Brown’s offensive rebound put back and free throw with 14.3 second sleft in the quarter, and while Colville’s McKenna Cabbage’s layin with 6.5 seconds regained it for the Indians, it didn’t last long.
Brown made two free throws to make it 37-38 at the 6:50 mark in the fourth and 47 seconds later stole the ball to put Cheney up 39-38. Brown stole the ball on Colville’s subsequent possession, with Kayla Lemelin making one of two free throws for a two-point margin, followed by Shyann Morton’s offensive rebound put back making it 42-38.
Cheney eventually stretched its lead to 47-40 on Labish’s 3 with 2:55 to play, and after Colville’s Megan Lee made it 48-45 at the 2:02 mark, the Lady Hawks’ defense kept the Indians off the scoreboard the rest of the way, Lemelin hitting a pair of free throws with 1.2 remaining to seal the win.
Brown led all scorers with 19 points, several off her nine steals, while nabbing nine rebounds. Labish had 12 points to go with nine boards and five blocks. Cheney was 18 for 35 overall from the field, 51.4 percent, and 13 for 20, 65 percent, from the line.
Harmer attributed the Lady Hawks success Thursday to better defense, switching from their match-up zone to straight man-to-man. She also said they had a renewed focus.
“They played with a sense of urgency,” she said.
Cheney is 4-7 in Great Northern League play, 7-11 overall, and pretty much locked into the No. 5 playoff seed regardless of what happens in the final week of league play. Cheney closes the regular season tonight (Thursday) at home against sixth-place Clarkston (2-8, 4-14). The only question for the Lady Hawks is whom they play: Colville or East Valley.
“We’re most likely hitting the road,” Harmer said.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.