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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Storm Lake staves off Braves' comeback bid

Monday, January 7, 2013

STORM LAKE - The Storm Lake boy's basketball team had struggled with their free-throws all season, ranking near the end in the state at a shade over 50% heading into Friday night's matchup with Cherokee. The Tornadoes picked the right time to correct that aspect of their game as they knocked down 23-of-25 on the night, including 15-of-15 in the second half, as they held off Cherokee by a final of 63-51.

Both teams showed some holiday rust in the early going with the Braves holding a 5-2 lead midway through the first quarter. Storm Lake began to gain momentum after a timeout, rattling off nine straight points for an 11-5 lad after one.

Jay Grant pushed it to 13-5 early in the second, and four from Kouny Deng made it a 17-8 Storm Lake lead. Ethan Kenkel picked up his eighth and ninth points at the foul line with two minutes left in the half to push it to 24-14, but Eric Wilkie would knock down a three to keep it within single digits at halftime.

The Tornadoes stormed out of the halftime break, going on a 13-2 run, led by five from Kenkel and four from Deng, to build a 37-19 lead. The Braves would hang around, however, closing on a 12-4 run of their own.

Storm Lake appeared to have everything in hand, building their lead up to 21 midway through the fourth, but again Cherokee answered, reeling off nine straight as a Wilkie three brought the Braves back within eight.

The Tornadoes regained their composure and iced it at the line, knocking down eight straight in the final minute and a half.

"A win is a win," said Storm Lake head coach Bob Grant. "We've got to learn to keep our composure. Our guys knew what to do. They just got panicked I guess. Give Cherokee credit. They hung right in there. At the line, everybody stepped up and hit them for us. When we needed them late, man, those were nails."

It was another impressive outing for Kenkel, who put up 25 in Spencer before entering the break, as he turned in 18 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots.

"He was in charge of the game," said Grant. "It took us a long time to figure out we wanted the ball in the middle. When we get him the ball in the middle, good things happen."

Grant knocked down all eight of his free throw attempts on his way to 14 points. Deng joined them in double figures with 14, Nic Seaman turned in nine, Aaron Krier six and Chase Lange two.

"Really proud of Kouny," said Grant. "He's still going to have some rough times. He's a 15-year old kid, but he did some nice things for us. He was a spark."

Wilkie led all scorers with 21 and Stetson Dagel joined him in double figures.

Cherokee drops to 0-9 with the loss and 0-5 in the Lakes Conference.

Storm Lake improves to 4-5 overall and 4-2 in league play.

The Tornadoes remain at home Monday to take on North Union. They welcome LeMars in to town on Friday.

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