Cards can't keep pace with Blackhawks in Sprit Game
Medical Lake's Jaelon Stith defends against Cheney's Ty Graham.
Medical Lake's fast start failed to hold up in their outing at Cheney last Saturday for the schools 'annual Golden Feather basketball game.
After taking a quick 6-0 lead that had Cheney reeling just briefly, the Cardinals were unable to sustain the pace and lost the nonleague contest 69-53 when the Blackhawks' offense shifted into high gear in the second half.
Medical Lake did hit the road earlier in the week and won a crucial Northeast A League victory, 58-51 at Chewelah last Tuesday.
The Blackhawks (3-10) , who trailed at the half 30-28 with a brief flurry of Cardinals points – a 3 from Cory Wagner and a pair of free throws from Tellas Johnson – raced to a 14-2 run to open the third quarter with six points apiece from Alex Berman and Brett Wyborney. Berman would end up with 23 to lead all scorers. Nick Hohrman had 12 and Wyborney 10 as other Cheney players in double-figures.
"Team defensive breakdown and physical play," were the two areas Cardinals head coach Arnold Brown said were the difference.
Trailing 42-29 in the last two minutes of the third quarter, Medical Lake got back-to-back 3s from Jordan Rohweder and Wagner got the Cardinals close again but the Blackhawks answered with a 7-3 run that closed out the third, giving Cheney a 21-8 edge in the quarter and 49-38 in the game.
Medical Lake got a basket from Dylan Rushfeldt and a 3 from Johnson that closed it to an 11-point game with four minutes to play, but once again Cheney had an answer, a 10-3 run to the end keyed by the six points from Hohrman.
Brown was concerned that the Spirit Game festivities, which Medical Lake won for a fourth consecutive year, might take his team's focus off the most important jobs of the week, that being staying in the race for the NEA playoffs that begin in February.
Getting a career night from Johnson with 32 points and 15 from Wagner, the Cards rallied on the road from a 33-24 halftime deficit to outscore the Cougars 13-2 in the third quarter and take command. Their perfect 10-for-10 shooting from the free throw line in the fourth contributed to their 21-17 edge that thwarted a Chewelah (1-5, 4-10) comeback.
"Team defense and rebounding," Brown said were the difference at Chewelah who was led by Mason Miller's 19 points.
Medical Lake dives back into NEA contests this week with a game at Riverside (5-1, 12-2) this past Tuesday, at Kettle Falls (0-6, 5-8 Friday and home versus Freeman (3-3, 5-7) Saturday at 6 p.m.
Heading into the stretch run and final half-dozen games, Brown said he's looking for his team to, "Play with better Basketball IQ and commitment to team defense."
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.