"We did our homework and we knew that they would keep the game in the 40s and 50s," said Miller Grove head coach Sharman White. "Second half, we knew we had to get out and run more, get out and make plays in transition, and continue to keep the defensive intensity."
White's Wolverines overcame shaky shooting in the first two quarters of the game by pressuring Cherokee's ballhandlers in the second half. Cherokee hung around in the Wolverines' 59-50 win, but the game was never really in doubt.
Miller Grove junior guard Mfon Udofia struggled a bit with his shot throughout the contest, but was happy with his effort and his team's performance.
"I feel like I managed the game well, I got my teammates involved," Udofia said. "I missed a couple of free throws, but overall we played a good game."
"Our coach always tells us we're a second-half team," said Udofia's teammate, junior forward Stephen Hill. The Wolverines utilized a full-court press and in-your-face perimeter defense after halftime to frustrate the Warriors, who struggled with Miller Grove's all-out pressure.
On Cherokee's end, head coach Roger Kvam was naturally disappointed in the loss, but had high praise for his kids and Miller Grove as well.
"We lost six of our top seven from last year, and for these guys to win twenty games and make the state tournament and advance past the second round, which is something the last team couldn't do ... I'm very proud of them, my seniors in particular."
His thoughts on Miller Grove: "They're long and athletic, quick, they're in passing lanes, tipping balls and blocking shots. They do a variety of things that make it hard to score."
Cherokee had a tough time getting the ball into junior center Shawn Kemp, Jr. (son of the former NBA star), who also struggled with fouls throughout the game.