Mistakes and inability to make baskets in key moments of a game led to two losses last week for the Cheney High boys' basketball team.
The Blackhawks stayed with defending 2A state champion and top-ranked Pullman on the road Tuesday until turnovers helped the Greyhounds pull away for a 66-45 win. Friday the visiting West Valley Eagles nickel and dimed the Blackhawks with numerous short scoring runs that Cheney couldn't find answers for in its 68-50 loss.
Tuesday the Blackhawks stayed close to Pullman (9-0 GNL, 15-1 overall), trailing by two at the end of the first quarter and by three, 22-19 with two and half minutes left in the half when things fell apart. Helped by seven Cheney turnovers in those final 150 seconds the Greyhounds went on an 11-0 run to take a 33-19 lead they never relinquished.
Alex Berman led Cheney in scoring with 12 points and Ty Graham added 11. Head coach Chris Dunn said his team wasn't assertive enough against the Pullman press in the second quarter, leading to the turnovers and Greyhounds run.
Friday night the Blackhawks also stayed within reach of West Valley (4-4, 11-5) through the early part of the game, trailing 13-12 at the end of one quarter, thanks in part to the shooting of Berman who scored 10 of his team-high 23 points in the frame. But in the second Eagles senior Jake Love stepped forward, scoring seven of his team-high 23 points and assisting on two more on a breakaway layup by Jake Herford as West Valley went on a 12-0 run to build a 25-12 lead.
Cheney trimmed that to 11 at intermission, and eventually got to within eight at 38-30 early in the third quarter, but couldn't capitalize on opportunities from West Valley misses and turnovers to pull closer. Cheney closed within 10 on three separate occasions, the final at 55-45 with 4:20 to play in the game before West Valley pulled away for the win.
Berman was the only Cheney player in double figures, with Brett Wyborney adding seven and Graham six. The Blackhawks committed 18 turnovers, but more telling for Dunn, gave up 16 offensive rebounds, something helping the Eagles prolong offensive possessions while limiting Cheney opportunities.
Cheney falls to 1-8 in league, 4-13 overall. The Blackhawks are one game behind sixth-place Deer Park, 2-7, 6-11, and could miss the postseason for the first time in years if they fail to find a way to get into the win column in their last three games.
Cheney hosted third-place East Valley (5-4, 10-7) Tuesday night. They then hit the road for their final two contests, Thursday at second-place and second-ranked Clarkston (6-2, 14-2) and Feb. 13 at fifth-place Colville (3-5, 8-7).
None of these present any "gimmes" but Dunn feels if his team plays to what he believes they're capable of playing, they could pull an upset or two. One win would pull them even with the Stags, forcing a tiebreaker as the teams split their games in the regular season.
"Both games (East Valley and Clarkston), if we come out and play well I think are very winnable for us," Dunn said.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.