Cheney Free Press -


Blackhawks hold off Bantams for first win in Clarkston since 2010


January 11, 2018

The Cheney High boys basketball team showed a bit of rustiness in their first game back from the New Year’s break in a 65-47 loss to visiting Pullman Jan. 3.

Fortunately, the Blackhawks shook off that rust to do something they have only done once before in 15 years — pull off a win on the road at Clarkston. Cheney battled and clawed its way to a 57-49 win over the Bantams last Friday, its first road victory at Clarkston in seven years and second since 2002.

“I loved it because it was tight the whole game,” head coach Gregg Smith said of the Blackhawks second Great Northern League win of the season.

The keys for Cheney came in the area of turnovers. The Blackhawks scored 10 points off Clarkston miscues, but even more importantly, committed just two turnovers in the decisive fourth quarter as the Bantams (1-3 GNL, 4-6 overall) made a late run that came up short.

Cheney committed 16 turnovers overall while shooting 45 percent from the field and going 9 for 17 from the foul line. The Blackhawks also out rebounded Clarkston 33-27, including 10 on the offensive glass to the Bantams seven.

Nicholas Berman and Cole Omlin led Cheney in scoring with 12 points each, with Devin Cook adding 11 and Camden VerStrate 10.

Smith said his team moved the ball much better than they did two days earlier against league-leading Pullman, 4-0, 10-2. But then again, the Blackhawks did everything better than what they did against the Greyhounds, ranked 12th in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s 2A RPI standings.

Smith said offensively, while they didn’t shoot much better than Cheney, Pullman was much more effective and in control most of the game. The Blackhawks trailed by just six points at halftime, but were outscored 40–28 the rest of the way.

Jake Berman led Cheney in scoring with 17 points in his first game back from a high-ankle sprain.

“We didn’t move the ball very well offensively and it showed,” Smith said. “We took some tough shots — which some guys can do, but most can’t.”

Cheney goes to 2-2 in the GNL, third behind Pullman and West Valley (3-1, 9-3), and is 4-7 overall. The Blackhawks faced a tough opponent on the road Tuesday in their second game against the eighth-ranked Eagles, hoping to make amends for a 57-55 loss Dec. 8 on buzzer-beating layin by Connor Whitney.

Cheney wraps up the week with their final non-league game, hosting Northeast A League and West Plains rival Medical Lake (2-3, 4-5) in the annual Golden Feather spirit game.

John McCallum can be reached at


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