High School Boys Basketball:
Friday, February 19, 1999
By Greg Alvord
Exceeding the expectations of science, the Chiefs captured lightning in the battle for the second time in less than 24 hours at the honorary Bob Costello Gymnasium in Evesham. The Cherokee Chiefs (11-9) and the Woodrow Wilson Tigers (11-9) squared off against each other. Although both clubs posted identical records, the hotter-than-the-new Sports Illustrated-swimsuit-issue Chiefs edged the gamely Tigers by a 50-48 score in another wildly exciting game.
The first quarter began with each team matching the other basket for basket. Wilson used the strategy of trying to push the tempo to try to drain the Chiefs. Two nice "shake'n bake" moves by William Robinson led the Tigers' attack. Kyle Cuneo's floor leadership generated the Chiefs. Cuneo ran the Cherokee offense expertly, dishing out three assists in the quarter. The fast paced first quarter ended with the Tigers up 12-9.
The second quarter opened up with a pumped up Tiger team once again running the floor. Wilson pumped in the quarters' first 8-points, led by the sweet shooting of Raymond Barker. The Chiefs, however, gained the resolve to pick up their defense with a flurry of blocked shots. Coach Ron Powell used his Cherokee bench to get a slew of players involved and to keep his starters fresh. A crisp one handed chest pass from Cuneo to Mike Scanzano, who completed the play with an ole fashion 3-point play, cut the Wilson lead to 20-16. The two teams then matched buckets until Wilson's Barker canned a deep three banger at the half's buzzer to give the Tigers a 26-19 halftime lead.
Now, the flat Chiefs could have rested on last night's gigantic upset of formerly number one ranked Cherry Hill East. However, whatever halftime speech techniques Coach Powell has been using should be bottled up and sold on the market, because it would be the product of the century.
The second half opened up with a freshly revitalized Cherokee team cutting and picking to perfection. The inside game of the Chiefs was lead by the scoring of Ryan Hewitt and the rebounding and shot blocking skills of Brian Erhart. A much-needed timeout by Wilson halted the Chiefs attack. The Tigers switched to a 2-3-zone defense that slowed the Chiefs down and allowed Wilson to go to work inside. Wilson's big Spencer Young used an array of power moves to keep the Tigers ahead. A stealthy pump fake by Scanzano followed by a one-handed jumper cut the Tigers lead to 31-28. The teams traded points until a hard driving lay up by Cherokee's Cuneo tied the game at 35 at the end of the quarter.
The final quarter opened with both teams matching long-range three pointers, DeWayne Earl for Wilson and Doug Cusick for Cherokee holding the hot hand. As the seconds ticked away, Wilson continued to rely on the play of Young. The Chiefs were ignited by the play of Jamal Williams. The two muscled rebounds followed by two not to be denied power drives by Williams gave the Chiefs a 44-43 lead. A spectacular pump fake jumper by Young quickly gave the lead back to Wilson. As time ticked away and the excitement in this gym grew to a fever pitch, the game found itself knotted at 48. Then, a steal by Wilson's Earl seemed to be an easy chance for Wilson to take the lead, but a spectacular hustling come from behind blocked shot by Erhart gave the Chiefs the ball back with 1:04 left. Cherokee's mastery of the Princeton weave allowed the time to tick down so that they could once again get off the final shot. And what a final shot indeed! With players cutting and screening, the ball found its way past the hands of hustling Wilson defenders into the grasp of Cherokee's Ryan Hewitt. The Chiefs' big man found himself fifteen feet from the hoop on the left baseline and let loose a feathery, high arching jumper against two Wilson defenders. The swish tickled the twine as the final buzzer sounded, once again giving these young, very poised, unselfish Chiefs a dramatic last second victory, 50-48.
Cherokee: Cusick 8, Scanzano 9, Cuneo 8, Hewitt 10, Erhart 11, Williams 4
Woodrow Wilson: Robinson 11, Barker 10, Young 12, Bethea 2, Earl 13
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