Last season Estherville Lincoln Central had two close games against Cherokee with the Midgets winning both, 68-64 and 58-57 in overtime.
With both teams returning all or nearly all their players from a year ago, the Braves were looking for their first win of the season.
But ELC got 22 points and seven rebounds off the bench from junior David Hughes as the Midgets overcame a sluggish start to win 64-58.
ELC’s David Hughes glides in for two points during second quarter play against Cherokee on Friday.
EDN photo by David Swartz
ELC jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the first period, but then struggled to score while Cherokee went on a 14-2 run to lead 16-7 after one quarter.
The Midgets immediately upped the intensity in the second quarter.
A 3-pointer by Evan Hansen started a 7-0 Midget run with David Hughes scoring the next four points and Matt Burrell the next three as ELC led 17-16 with 4:15 left in the half.
A seesaw battle ensued as Cherokee's Marc Husman immediately gave the Braves back the lead with a layup. Hughes answered again with another basket.
The game was tied when Hansen hit a basket with 20 seconds left in the half.
The Braves tried to play for the last shot when Hughes stole the ball and went coast to coast for a layup at the buzzer as ELC led 25-23 at the break.
Cherokee opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to try to stall ELC's momentum. But Hansen answered with his second trey of the night.
While the Braves never retook the lead, they just wouldn't go away.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Hansen and Reiter late in the third period gave the Midgets a 40-33 lead with 40 seconds remaining. But Cherokee's Zac Smith scored inside and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but the ball landed back in his hands as the putback cut the deficit to three, 40-37.
ELC again got the last basket of the period, this time with Derek Nieland posting up and scoring his only two points of the night as ELC led 42-37 to start the final frame.
The Braves kept battling and tied the game at 46-46 on a 3-pointer by Smith.
But Hughes put ELC on top again. The 6-2 junior finished with all 14 of his second half points in the final frame, including 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
The lead got as much as nine when Smith hit another 3-pointer and then Stetson Dagel scored to get the lead to four, 62-58. But Cherokee ran out of time.
Hansen finished with 15 points while Burrell finished with nine points and nine rebounds.
Reiter finished with seven while Tyler Swanson had five and Nieland, Carsten Bosch and Brad Olsen each had two.
ELC was 14-for-22 from the free throw line. The Braves were 7-for-14.
Smith led the Braves with 18 points while Husman had 13 and Eric Wilkie had 10.
ELC (4-4 overall, 2-2 in the Lakes Conference) hosts Spirit Lake next Friday.