Another Big Season For Cherokee Girls’..

Another Big Season For Cherokee Girls’.. Another Big Season For Cherokee Girls’ Basketball

While no high school girls’ basketball teams from the seven-country South Jersey area played in an NJSIAA state championship, many had excellent seasons, and none better than Cherokee.

The Chiefs were the consensus No. 1 team in South Jersey after winning the South Jersey Invitational tournament for the second straight year.

That is the tournament that includes the best teams in South Jersey and concludes right before the state tournament.

Even though coach Ron Powell saw 2017 consensus South Jersey Player of the Year Isabella Therien graduate, the Chiefs were able to withstand such a difficult loss.

One reason was that Therien’s sisters, Ava, a junior and Alexa, a freshman. The Theriens were the two leading scorers for the Chiefs.

Ava averaged more than 13 points per game and Alexa averaged just about 10 points per game.

In addition, senior Katie Cummiskey and sophomore Kennedy Wilburn each averaged more than seven points per game.

This was not a high scoring Cherokee team, but few played defense better.

The Chiefs finished 25-3 and held teams to under 40 points in 25 of those games.

Cherokee only lost to one team from the seven-county South Jersey area, falling 34-32 to Bishop Eustace.

The other losses were to Caravel Academy of Delaware, 39-32 and then in the final game of the season, to Toms River North, 41-34 in the South Jersey Group 4 championship.

The Chiefs went 8-0 in winning the always difficult Olympic Conference American Division. The highlight of the season was winning the second straight South Jersey Invitational.

Cherokee beat Lenape school district rival Shawnee, 44-33 in the final. Alexa Therien became the first freshman to be named MVP of the South Jersey Invitational. In the championship win she had 15 points and seven rebounds.

Ava Therien added 12 points.

It was the second won over Shawnee. The teams opened their season against each other and the Chiefs took a 46-37 win.

What makes Cherokee’s accomplishment so impressive is that the Chiefs played among the more difficult schedules in South Jersey.

For instance, right before the state tournament, Cherokee earned a hard-fought 29-27 win over Winslow Township.

That is a Winslow Township team that advanced to the South Jersey Group 3 semifinals before losing to eventual champion Ocean City, 35-32.

In winning the American Division the Chiefs had to beat twice each, among others, two strong Group 4 teams in Lenape and Washington Township.

Cherokee has now been the consensus No. 1 South Jersey team two years running. That is even more impressive considering how much parity there is in South Jersey girls’ basketball. There might not have been that one dominant team, but several capable of contending for the No. 1 spot.

It’s a spot Cherokee deservedly earned for the second straight year.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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