Blackhawks fall to 0-3 in Great Northern
Alex Berman drives past Pullman's Race Martin for a baseline jumper in the first quarter of last Saturday's game with the visiting Greyhounds
The Cheney boys' basketball team's first Great Northern League win of 2014 is proving elusive, albeit they weren't facing some of the league's easier competition last weekend. The Blackhawks dropped both their games to fall to 0-3, 55-41 Friday night at East Valley and 62-35 at home to defending state 2A champion and second-ranked Pullman 24 hours later.
"I'd argue they're probably the best team we'll see all year," Cheney head coach Chris Dunn said of the Greyhounds.
The Blackhawks struggled to get the ball inside against Pullman's zone, settling for perimeter jumpers that didn't fall at the beginning. Meanwhile the Greyhounds didn't have that problem, opening a 10-0 lead behind the scoring of 6-foot, 5-inch senior post Race Martin. Martin scored 11 of his game high 22 points in the first 3 minutes, 36 seconds of the game.
Alex Berman's baseline eight-footer got Cheney on the board at 10-2, but that was as close as the Blackhawks ever got. Berman led Cheney with 16 points while Keenan Williams grabbed four of the Blackhawks 17 total rebounds. Cheney committed 15 turnovers.
Friday the Blackhawks did much better in the rebounding department, but still had difficulty shooting against the Knights – this time from a different spot. Dunn said they missed about 15 shots from around the two-foot range, virtually point blank, that if converted might have changed the tone of the game, especially going into the fourth quarter where Cheney trailed by just four points but was outscored 21-11 in the final eight minutes.
"We couldn't buy a basket close to the rim," Dunn said.
Berman led all scorers with 17 points, with Ryan Smedley adding 10. Williams had six of Cheney's 23 rebounds, and the Blackhawks turned the ball over 11 times, eight in the first half.
The losses drop Cheney's overall record to 1-8, but they have three chances to improve on that this week. The Blackhawks traveled to West Valley (8-2, 1-1) Tuesday, results next week, and return home to face Colville (5-4, 0-2) Friday and 1A Medical Lake (4-8) Saturday in the annual Golden Feather Spirit Game.
Dunn feels all three games are winnable for his young team, who are still trying to nail down some basic principles of playing together and gain confidence. Cheney needs to play with more of a "sense of urgency," Dunn said, and learn to take the game to their opponents rather than vice versa.
"You've got to play and dictate things from the get go," he added. "They're a lot closer than they think they are at this point."
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.