Boys’ Varsity Basketball Falls to Cherokee 81-70

In a hard fought battle, the Cougars lost tonight to the Cherokee Chiefs 81-70 at Cherokee. The Cougars put lots of heart into the game, fighting for every loose ball and kept hustling until the end, but it seemed as though there was a Cherokee answer for every East three pointer. Despite Seth Friedman’s (’10) outstanding shooting (five of seven from beyond the arc) it seemed as though Bryan Cooper or another Cherokee player would run down the court and make a three-pointer for Cherokee.

Cherokee jumped out to a 21-6 lead in the first quarter, seemingly taking control of the game. The Cougars stayed with it though, cutting the lead to 21-13 at the end of the first quarter after a dazzling Friedman layup with 2.8 seconds left in the quarter.

The status quo remained the same in the second quarter. The Cougars would make mini-runs at the Cherokee lead, but could never make a deep enough dent in the lead. The half ended with a Cherokee lead of 34-22. Chris Santo (’11) had 8 points and 4 rebounds at the half, but his game was just beginning. Friedman had 11 points at the conclusion of the half and perfect 3 of 3 shooting from the three point line.

In the third quarter, Cherokee built up their lead to 17 in the quarter, but once again the Cougars had an answer. The lead was cut down to 10 with 2 minutes left in the quarter after a Santo layup with a foul shot afterwards. Once again, Cherokee responded with a mini-run but a Friedman three from a different area code than the basket cut the lead to 12. Another Cougar bucket cut the lead to 10 at the end of the third quarter, which ended with a score of 57-47 with Cherokee in the lead. Santo had 21 at the end of the quarter and Friedman had 17 along with 6 assists.

The fourth quarter was all about Santo for East. Santo scored 14 points in the final quarter, leaving him with 35. He would not give up in the paint and went up hard to the basket each possession and drew many fouls. After Cherokee extended its lead to a game-high 18 with about 4 minutes left, Santo and the Cougars cut it down to 11, 81-70.

Friedman ended up with 20 points and 9 assists while Santo had 35 points and 12 rebounds.

Jake Gurkin (’12) made an early return from his sickness in the first quarter. Unfortunately, minutes after he came in the game, he was elbowed in the face by a Cherokee player and had to sit out for a quarter due to a bloody nose.

The entire game was very physical, with the game ending with both teams in the double bonus for fouls, meaning each team had fouled the other ten times in the second half.

Player of the Game:

There were only two options here in either Friedman or Santo. However, Santo was tonight’s true best player. All game he faced an athletic defense and went up against bigger bodies for rebounds, yet he still ended up with 35 points and 12 rebounds. Cherokee had no answer for him on defense, as he continuously bulldozed his way in the paint, fighting off contact in the second half. He made his baskets even when fouled and kept East close late in the game.