AURORA | Cherokee Trail’s up-and-down season experienced another up Saturday.
The Cougars snapped a three-game losing streak that followed a five-game winning streak with a big 55-53 overtime win at Smoky Hill.
Senior Deon Barfield scored a team-high 19 points and scored what turned out to be the winning points with two late free throws for coach Morgan Gregory’s team, which played shorthanded without its second leading scorer in Tyson Rodgers.
The Cougars outscored the Buffaloes 7-5 in the extra period with senior Kamron Bode tallying five of his 14 points in overtime to help his team move to 7-4 overall and even its Centennial League record at 1-1.
Senior Champion Martin also got into double figures with 11 for Cherokee Trail, which bounced back from losses to Regis Jesuit and Cherry Creek.
“We had been scuffling since the break, so that was a much-needed win,” Gregory said. “We didn’t really talk much about winning the game, we talked about playing with some toughness and commitment to guarding people, which we’d gotten away from lately.
“I thought if we got our energy back to where it needed to be, it would give us a chance to be successful. Against a team like that, there was a chance we could do all that and lose by 20, but we would live with the results.”
The Cougars lost Rodgers — who averaged 10.9 points per game in their first nine contests — in the second half of a surprising 31-point loss to Regis Jesuit on Jan. 3 and felt the after effects of his absence in a seven-point defeat against Cherry Creek the next day.
With a day off to practice and adjust, Gregory shifted the ballhandling duties to Bode and Barfield and both kept the team organized and composed in a difficult place to play against the star-studded Buffaloes.
Cherokee Trail got some breaks and benefited from some shots that didn’t fall for Smoky Hill, including a good look by senior John Harge that could have ended the game at the end of regulation.
“We got some breaks and Smoky missed some makeable shots,” Gregory said. “We certainly weren’t going to outtalent a team like that, but we got back to being our bluecollar selves.”
Smoky Hill went into winter break on a five-game winning streak that had it at 7-2, but coach Anthony Hardin’s team has now dropped league contests to Grandview (65-55 on Jan. 4) and Cherokee Trail since its return.
Harge had a game-high 24 points and junior Kenny Foster added 17 for the Buffaloes, who erased a late deficit to get the game to overtime. Foster’s tying shot attempt in the paint at the end of overtime was just off.
Cherokee Trail plays host to Smoky Hill in the rematch at 7 p.m. Jan. 31.
The Cougars had little time to celebrate the win, as a home matchup with rolling Grandview (10-1, 2-0) looms at 7 p.m. Jan. 10. The Buffaloes pay a visit to Overland (3-7, 2-0) at the same time on the same date.
“There’s real thin line in league between feeling good about yourselves and being down in the dumps,” Gregory said. “Things can change in a hurry.”
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
CHEROKEE TRAIL 55, SMOKY HILL 53 (OT)
Score by quarters:
Cher. Trail 9 16 14 9 7 — 55
Smoky Hill 13 15 6 14 5 — 53
CHEROKEE TRAIL (55)
Deon Barfield 7 3-5 19, Kamron Bode 4 6-8 14, Champion Martin 4 2-2 11, Aaron Gregory 1 0-0 3, Octavian Hymer 0 0-0 0, Lelvory Harrison 2 4-4 8, Kyrie Thomas 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 15-19 55.
SMOKY HILL (53)
Quinten Rock 3 0-0 6, John Harge 8 6-9 24, Will Becker 1 2-2 4, Kenny Foster 7 1-2 17, Kyle Cabs 0 1-4 1, Mue Muwwakkil 0 0-0 0, Eric Williams 0 1-2 1. Totals 19 11-19 53.
3-point field goals — Cherokee Trail (4): Deondre Barfield 2, Aaron Gregory, Champion Martin; Smoky Hill (4): Kenny Foster 2, John Harge 2.