Fast start helps Lady Hawks hold off Medical Lake
Cheney can gain momentum from Spirit Game win with home games against Deer Park, Clarkston
Cheney players Kayla Lemelin (13) and Katie McGourin chase a loose ball in last Saturday's Spirit Game as Medical Lake players Abigail Morrison (4) and Maleeka Wegner (20).
A strong first half against visiting Medical Lake was all Cheney's girls' basketball team needed to notch their third win of the season.
The Lady Hawks held the Cardinals scoreless in the first quarter of last Saturday's annual Golden Feather Spirit Game, sprinting to a 12-0 lead they turned into a 27-12 halftime advantage, and then hung on from there for a 44-35 win.
Shyann Morton's five points keyed Cheney's first quarter as they capitalized on seven ML turnovers by pushing the ball strongly up court. Morton finished with 18 points for the game.
"We were just playing pretty aggressive defense and their shots weren't falling yet," head coach Shannon Root said.
After the Cardinals finally scored they trimmed Cheney's lead to seven at 15-8 with less than four minutes to play. That's when Lady Hawks guard Kendyl Cone showed up – scoring 10 straight points to put Cheney back up by 15 before ML's Cassidy Hagel made a buzzer-beater layup to make the score 27-12 at intermission.
The Cardinals turned that basket into some momentum, opening the third with a 7-0 run. Cone had to head to the bench after picking up her third and fourth fouls one minute apart halfway through the period, but after a front end miss of 1-and-1 that would have helped ML trim Cheney's lead to seven, Morton hit another 3 to give Cheney the 12-point advantage heading into the fourth.
Five points from Hagel pulled ML to within nine at 39-30, but Cheney managed to hold them off down the stretch, helped by some key free throw misses.
Cone and Morton both had 18 to lead the Lady Hawks. Katie McGourin led with nine rebounds, followed by Megan McDowell with eight and Cone with seven. The Lady Hawks had 20 turnovers and 15 steals, part of ML's 24 turnovers, while hauling down 44 rebounds.
The Lady Hawks opened the week with Great Northern League losses to West Valley and Colville. Tuesday, Cheney played well in holding West Valley scoring threat Erin Higbie to five points, but struggled against junior guard Natalie Noble and 6-foot sophomore post Rachel McGlothlen, each of whom scored 18 points in the Eagles 53-32 win.
"They're a great team," Root said, adding the game was played much closer than the score indicated.
"It didn't feel like we lost by 21 points, but we did," she said.
McGourin led Cheney in scoring with 11, the only player in double figures, while adding eight rebounds. Cheney committed 21 turnovers to the Eagles 10 while watching West Valley (9-3, 3-1) collect 13 offensive rebounds.
Friday the Lady Hawks stayed within striking distance of visiting Colville (9-3, 3-2), trailing by eight at halftime and pulling to within five in the third quarter but never closer in the 54-40 loss. Cone led Cheney with 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks, several of which she was able to collect rather swat out of bounds.
"She jumps really well so she's able to get a whole hand (on the ball)," Root said.
McDowell added 10 points. The Lady Hawks committed 20 turnovers and gave up 20 offensive rebounds to the Indians.
Cheney (3-9, 1-4) has a chance to add to any momentum gained off the ML win with games this week against Deer Park and Clarkston, both at home. The Stags come in at 1-12 and winless in GNL play, one of those a 43-23 home loss to Cheney.
Clarkston (6-6, 4-0) will be a different matter. The Bantams have wins over pre-season title contenders East Valley and Colville, and bring a gritty presence and ability to hit from long range to the court.
"We need to get back on defense," Root said.
Despite their record, Root said her team is progressing, helped by good chemistry among the players and an attitude that every game matters.
"They take every loss to heart," Root said. "That's huge."
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.