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High School Boys Basketball:
Renegades Win Tune-up Game Against Cherokee

Tuesday, February 23, 1999

By Greg Alvord
SJSports Staff Writer

With a week to go before the Cherokee Chiefs (12-9) and the Shawnee Renegades (17-5) face each other in the NJSIAA Group 4 playoff tournament, the packed house in the Medford gymnasium was privy to a sneak preview. And if tonight's contest was any indicator of what the next weeks action holds, then additional stands will have to be added. In this intensely played game, the Shawnee Renegades came out on top with a 63 to 40 victory.

The first quarter saw an all out effort from the opening tip-off. In a play that saw six different bodies hit the floor to try to garner the loose tip, this type of effort would have made Gene Hackman of the movie "Hoosiers" proud. Both teams swapped baskets as the quarter rolled along. Sean Mulholland made Cherokee's man to man his own in the first quarter as he scored all 8 of Shawnee's point on an array of outside shots. Ryan Hewitt of Cherokee paced the Chiefs. Whether it was rebounding, shot blocking or scoring, Hewitt was leading the Chiefs. The tightly played quarter ended 8-7 in favor of the Renegades.

The second quarter opened with Shawnee tightening the defensive screws. As the Chiefs went cold from the outside, the Renegades took full advantage. Using four different players to score, the Renegades went on an 11-0 run. First it was Anthony Strochan with a power drive, then it was Mulholland with an off the glass 3-point banker. The variety of Shawnee's offense continued. Zach Martin chipping in a 3-point play the old fashion way and Chris Altenberger finished the run with a soft put back to make the score 19-9. The Chiefs called a much needed (as Dick Vitale would say "Time Out Baby") to halt the Renegades momentum. A beautifully designed give and go after the time out stopped the run, as Doug Cusick converted. Next, a nice spinning inside move by Brian Erhart and a 3-point bomb by Mike Scanzano helped Cherokee cut the lead to 19-15. In a quarter of spurts, Shawnee went on one of their own to finish off the half. Mulholland once again led the way. Stoppin', stoppin' and poppin' from all over the floor, Mulholland was on fire as his NBA length 3-pointer at the half buzzer made it Shawnee 28, Cherokee 16. One cold night outside, nothing was hotter than Shawnee's guard in the 1st half as Mulholland pumped in 18 points while missing only one attempt.

The second half opened with Cherokee attempting to apply pressure. The Chiefs tough man to man defensive pressure caused many Shawnee misses. However, the Renegades had Chris Altenbercer making his first appearance back into the lineup since he injured his ankle in the last meeting between those two clubs. Altenbercer was a monster on the inside. Swiping the ball off a miss and putting it back in was Shawnee's theme. Cherokee started to warm from the outside. Kyle Cuneo and Scanzano pumped in 3 bangers to make the score 32-23 in Shawnee's favor. That would be as close as Cherokee would get tonight. The play of Altenbercer and the continued shooting of Mulholland gave the Renegades a 45-27 lead after 3 quarters.

As both teams traded baskets, the final quarter's time ticked away. Cherokee could not cut into the Shawnee lead and at the 4-minute mark; both coaches went to their benches to get their players some valuable varsity playing time. The score at the end of the game was Shawnee 63, Cherokee 40. With one week to prepare for the powerful Renegades, Cherokee must get down to business to be ready for the playoffs. Next week's game promises to be played with as much intensity as tonight, as these neighboring rivals face each other in the 1st round of the start of the State Championship Tournament.

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