Indians battle but fall to third-ranked Braves
The Spirit Lake girls basketball team fell behind early but battled hard for the final three quarters in a 74-61 loss to Class 3A third-ranked Cherokee at home on Tuesday.
"I thought our girls played, from the tip to the end of the game, with a lot of energy, a lot of passion," Spirit Lake coach Naet Hoaglund said. "Being down in the first half, they could have let it go south but they didn't. They kept fighting for the duration of the game. I'm just proud of their effort and the way they fought for the entirety of the game."
The Indians trailed 23-8 after one quarter of play and the Braves built a 17-point halftime lead at 42-25.
In the third quarter, the Indians battled back, cutting the deficit to 10 points on a Brooke Harrington bucket. Hoaglund said the Indians defense was the difference in the comeback.
"We mixed up our defense a little bit between some man and some zone," he said. "We just stressed being active on the defensive end, jumping to the ball when it's in the air and being aggressive. We got some stops and we pushed the ball up. We kept looking to attack, and that's what you need to do against this team — attack."
Unfortunately, the Braves ended the quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 56-39 advantage into the final stanza.
There, the Indians outscored the Braves 22-18, but could never get back within striking distance of the lead, as Cherokee clinched the 13-point victory.
With the loss, the Indians end the season with a 10-11 overall record and a 5-7 mark in the Lakes Conference.
Hoaglund said he is happy with how his team has improved throughout the regular season.
"I'm just really proud of how our girls have progressed from the first game until now," he said. "We're doing things so much better, so much cleaner from a team standpoint, sharing the basketball and, defensively, holding teams — the majority of the time — under their season average. We're focusing on our growth and I feel like we've had a lot of growth."
The Indians return to action Saturday, Feb. 10 when they host Sheldon in the opening round of the Class 3A Region 1 tournament.
"Sheldon is a good team from the Siouxland Conference," Hoaglund said. "We're going to have to come prepared. We're going to prepare these next three days and look at their personnel and their tendencies. We'll get three hard days of practice in. We expect them to give us their best, so we have to give them our best."