Indians fall short in battle with No. 4 Cherokee

Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Spirit Lake's Emma Loveall scans the Cherokee defense Friday in her team's seven-point loss to the fourth-ranked (2A) Braves. Loveall had 15 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks on the night. (Photo by Matt Heinrichs)

Spirit Lake fought well but ultimately came out on the losing end of a Lakes Conference girls basketball battle Friday. The Indians fell 58-51 to fourth-ranked (2A) Cherokee in Spirit Lake.

"I'm incredibly proud of this group of girls and the effort they played with tonight against a really good Cherokee team," Spirit Lake coach Naet Hoaglund said. "We put four hard-fought quarters together and took some more steps forward tonight. There were parts of the game where we got sideways a little bit, but I was pleased with how we responded."

The Indians struggled against Cherokee's pressure defense early, scoring just six points to trail 12-6 after one quarter of play.

Scoring increased in the second quarter, but the Braves still outscored the hosts 20-16 to take a 32-22 lead into the halftime locker room.

Spirit Lake's Karli Olsen looks for an open teammate in her team's home loss to the Braves on Friday evening. Olsen had four steals and three assists on the night. (Photo by Matt Heinrichs)

In the third quarter, Spirit Lake bounced back, outscoring Cherokee 10-9 to cut the Braves' lead to nine heading into the final stanza. The Indians continued to gain ground in the final stanza, outscoring the Braves 19-15, but it was too little, too late, as Cherokee held on for the win.

Emma Loveall led Spirit Lake with 15 points. She also had six rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists on the night.

"Emma Loveall was big for us tonight," Hoaglund said. "She made some big shots, got some key rebounds for us, and was really good from the foul line."

Brooke Smith finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists.

"Brooke Smith made some really big shots at critical points in the game for us," Hoaglund said. "That's huge for her and this team. She spends so much extra time after practice working on her shot and to see that hard work starting to pay off is big for her confidence."

Spirit Lake's Jordyn Hamm looks to pass in her team's home loss to fourth-ranked (2A) Cherokee on Friday. Hamm had 11 points and 12 rebounds on the night. (Photo by Matt Heinrichs)

Jordyn Hamm had 11 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and a block.

"Jordyn Hamm had another really solid performance," Hoaglund said. "She made some nice baskets for us, but what I am more proud of is how she attacked rebounds."

Mikia Kriener had four points, seven rebounds, three assists and a block. Karli Olsen had four steals and three assists for the Indians, who fell to 7-7 overall and 4-2 in conference play.

"Despite the loss, this is still a big step forward for us," Hoaglund said. "Losing never feels good, but there were so many good things in this performance to build on."

Spirit Lake returned to action Tuesday, Jan. 15, on the road against Western Christian. The Indians will host Estherville Lincoln Central on Friday, Jan. 18, before traveling to take on Dakota Valley (South Dakota) on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

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