After three periods in which neither team seemed to be able to pull away, Cherokee (6-0, 3-0 Region 5AAAAAA) found itself up by three at the beginning of the fourth.
Thanks to a quick 3-pointer from Morgan Darby, and a basket from Aunesha Williams, the Lady Warriors suddenly found themselves taking control of the contest, with Woodstock’s offense struggling to keep up.
In the first 4 minutes of the half, Cherokee registered 10 points to Woodstock’s four, giving the Lady Warriors a nine-point lead — their largest of the game.
With time ticking away and the game seemingly slipping from its control, Woodstock (4-1, 2-1) flipped the script and outscored Cherokee 10-4 in less than 2 minutes to make it a two-possession game with just over 2 minutes remaining.
Though the Lady Wolverines managed to pull within a basket at one point, they seemed unable to find a way through Cherokee’s defense in the final moments of the game and were forced to foul.
With the score 57-54 and just 8 seconds remaining, Cherokee’s Sara Byers was given a chance to seal the game from the line. After missing her first free-throw attempt, Byers made the second to send Woodstock away with its first defeat this year.
Cherokee saw three players score in double digits, with Darby totaling a team-high 17 points and Byers and Williams both finishing with 14.
In contrast, Woodstock relied on Clara Young and Brianna Lakes to do most of the scoring.
Young finished the game with 17 points and was 9-for-11 from the free-throw line, while Lakes scored 16, with 10 coming in the first half.
Cherokee coach Matt Cates was pleased with his team’s overall performance. When asked if any player had stood out to him, he couldn’t name just one.
“We had so many kids that played such a good ballgame,” he said. “It was a total team effort (Friday).”
Cates was also proud of the Lady Warriors’ defensive display, which he believes is starting to click.
“Defensively, this team is starting to step up and really do what we want them to do,” he said. “Our kids did a great job of following and sticking to the gameplan.”
For Woodstock coach Julie Crowe, the loss was a tough one to take.
“I feel like, this year, people are going to be gunning for us and that we are going to have to bring our ‘A’ game every single night,” she said. “We expect our kids to step up every single game, and (Friday) we didn’t do it.”