The Warriors (18-10) sealed the game from the free-throw line, where Zack Kvam led the way with a 7-for-8 performance in the fourth quarter.
Kvam finished the game with 18 points, as did Jeremiah Gill. Javon Morris added 15 points, including six in the fourth quarter.
The teams played to a 13-all tie in the first quarter, but Cherokee put up 20 in the second quarter to Walton’s eight. The teams went point-for-point in the third quarter before the Raiders started their rally with about 5 minutes to go.
Walton (14-13) cut the deficit to six, 49-43, but it wasn’t able to get any closer. The Raiders fouled in order to get control of the ball, but Cherokee was consistent at the line and pulled away.
Walton tired to make it interesting in the last minute when Rico Overall hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 66-58, but neither team scored again.
Overall led Walton with 24 points. C.J. Wingate, who fouled out in the last minute, added 17 and freshman Chad Clay scored eight.
Cherokee will open the state playoffs Wednesday as a No. 3 seed, traveling to the runner-up of Region 8AAAAAA, either Shiloh or Archer. Walton will be the No. 4 and will face that region’s champion.
Etowah 61, Wheeler 57: With a flurry of action in the Lady Eagles held on to win the consolation game of the Region 5AAAAAA girls tournament.
Tori Janos propelled Etowah (12-16) during the final 3 minutes. The sophomore broke a 55-all tie with a layup and then sealed the victory when she made both shots on a 1-and-1 with 8 seconds remaining.
Much like she did in the final minutes, Janos carried the Lady Eagles throughout the game. She finished with 37 points — accounting for more than half of Etowah’s scoring. Janos made three 3-pointers and was 4-for-5 from the free-throw line.
Monya Opera-Nadi added nine points and Taylor Kimber scored six for Etowah.
Wheeler was led by Alaysia Mitchell and Muneerah Drummond, who each scored 14 points. Drummond made four 3-pointers and went 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. Mitchell, on the other hand, struggled from the line and made just two of her eight attempts.
Lyric Hancock made a trio of 3-pointers, while Cassidy Allen and Tierra Steede each finished with seven points.
Etowah will travel to Region 8AAAAAA runner-up Archer for Tuesday’s first-round state playoff game. Wheeler will be at champion Parkview.