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Blackhawks still looking for first league victory

Cheney Free Press of Cheney, Washington

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The Cheney High School's boys basketball team is still looking for that four quarters of consistent play, something head coach Gregg Smith believes they need to do and soon if they hope to make any noise in the Great Northern League regular season standings.

The Blackhawks losing streak extended to eight games with three losses last week. All followed the same pattern as Cheney fell behind early and tried to mount late-game rallies.

The biggest of these was Tuesday night at West Valley (4-4,10-6). The Eagles took a 17-7 first-quarter lead they expanded to 48-32 before Cheney found its offensive rhythm in the fourth.

The Blackhawks attacked the basket under control, Smith said, and began to make some free throws, coming from behind to pull within two points with about 50 seconds remaining. But from there, Cheney's attempts at the charity stripe stopped going in, and West Valley's did, helping the Eagles preserve a 61-56 win.

"We were getting good looks (in the first half), they just were not dropping," Smith said. "I'm proud of the boys though for not giving up."

Justace Reiter led Cheney in scoring with 15 points, 13 in the final eight minutes and eight coming from the line. Riley Jones and Cameron Hardt each added 11.

It was a similar story Thursday at home against second-place Pullman (5-3, 13-3) as Cheney fell behind 181 after one, but never really found a way to get closer to the Greyhounds in the 63-44 loss. Jamiel Worthem led Cheney with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Friday night at top-ranked Clarkston (7-1, 15-1), the Blackhawks played the Bantams, evenly in the second and fourth quarters, but not so much in the first and third. Cheney was outscored 28-27 in the even frames, but 37-15 in the odd ones in the 65-42 loss. Gaige Felix led Cheney with 13 points.

Cheney sits in the GNL cellar at 0-8, 4-11 overall, but has the potential to make a little noise if it can find a way to get some wins in its final four games. A return trip to Clarkston was in store for the Blackhawks Tuesday (Jan. 26), before returning home to face East Valley (4-4, 9-7) and West Valley Thursday (Jan. 28) and Saturday (fan. 30).

Cheney closes the regular season Feb. 2 in Pullman, and then gets a much-needed week off before league playoffs begin Feb. 10 -15 at various sites.

Smith said the team, while not at all happy with the score, got off the bus from Clarkston feeling they could play with the Bantams, and plan to put more defensive focus on their leading scorer, Treyvon Allen. The Blackhawks plan for East Valley is to slow the game down a bit without changing its own up-tempo-style.

Against the Eagles, Smith thinks the key to victory is a bit simpler.

"We just need to play a basketball game," Smith said. "If we could put together four quarters, we could get some wins."

John McCallum can be reached at

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Original Publication Date: January 28, 2016

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