The Cherokee boys will be making a return to the tournament for the first time since 2008 — when some of their current players were in elementary school — after defeating Lassiter 60-50 on Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the Region 5AAAAAA tournament at Roswell.
The Warriors (17-9) will face Roswell, who defeated Etowah on Tuesday, in Friday’s semifinal.
“It’s very exciting for these kids,” Cherokee coach Roger Kvam said. “None of them have played in (the state tournament) before. We are a young team, so it’s quite an accomplishment for our team.”
The Warriors start one senior, two juniors and two sophomores.
On Wednesday, the Warriors kept their composure like veterans.
Cherokee held just a one-point lead in at the half, but pushed it to seven 37-30 entering the fourth quarter.
Zack Kvam made a key 3-pointer in the third that gave the Warriors the separation they needed.
The Warriors sealed it on the free-throw line, going 14-for-17 in the quarter.
“We made our free-throws down the stretch,” Roger Kvam said. “That made the difference.”
Kvam finished the game with 16 points, while Jeremiah Gill added 14 points and six assists.
Ja’Davin Keith added 12 points for the Warriors, Armony Parker scored 10 and Jovon Morris had seven and a team-high eight rebounds.
Lassiter was led by Justin Hahn with 14 points, while Khrishna Khatri and Jeff Green each scored eight.
Creekview 42, Riverwood 40: The Grizzlies were 8-of-9 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter for a comeback victory that put them back in the state playoffs.
Brandon Pressley finished the Region 7AAAAA quarterfinal with 14 points and seven rebounds and was 8-of-9 on his free-throw attempts.
Joining Pressley in double figures was Griffin Ghesquiere with 11 points and Matt Leahy with 10.
For the game, Creekview was 15-for-16 on free throws.
“We trailed pretty much the entire time,” Creekview coach Casey Gramling said. “We didn’t take the lead for good until the last minute of the game.”
The Grizzlies will play either Sequoyah or Osborne on the semifinals Friday.
River Ridge 74, Heritage-Catoosa 29: The Lady Knights held the Lady Generals to six first-half points and staked a 31-point halftime advantage in their Region 7AAAA quarterfinal game at Dalton.
Jordan Livesay led River Ridge (18-8) with 25 points to help River Ridge guarantee itself a state playoff berth for the third straight season. Livesay, who drained four of her team’s eight 3-pointers, also had seven rebounds and four steals.
Parker Nayman added 11 points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists, while Lucy Stone had 10 points, five rebounds and three assists for River Ridge, which outscored Heritage 18-6 in the fourth period.
Jessica Baker chipped in seven points for the Lady Knights who will play tournament host Dalton in a semifinal Friday.
Etowah 63, Lassiter 51: The Lady Eagles punched their ticket to the Class AAAAAA state playoffs with a Region 5AAAAAA tournament victory.
Etowah has now made the state playoffs in three of the past four seasons.
The Lady Eagles outscored Lassiter 27-12 in the second quarter to pull away, though the Lady Trojans crept back in and took a 43-42 lead at the end of the third.
Etowah opened the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run, which was sparked by a 3-pointer by Scottlyn James.
Tori Janos scored a team-high 22 points, including a 12-for-16 performance at the free-throw line, for Etowah.
James led the team with 11 rebounds, while Shakyna Payne added seven rebounds, eight points and three blocks.
Etowah will face Cherokee in the region semifinal Friday.
Sprayberry 61, Creekview 51: The Lady Grizzlies wrapped up their season with a loss in the Region 7AAAAA tournament at Sprayberry.
Emma Cook led Creekview with 13 points, while Dee Blankenship added 12 and Hannah Murphy finished with 11 points. Danyelle Blankenship scored nine points.