Cherokee’s 53-31 win over Centennial on Tuesday night marked more than just a 1-0 start for the Lady Warriors.
Longtime coach Matt Cates tallied his 400th career win. The most rewarding part for Cates, though, is that every single win came at Cherokee.
“It means a lot,” he said. “To me, it is all about this program, and I feel very honored to have done it all at one place. That is 400 wins here. I have never been a head coach anywhere else. It means a lot to do it all here.”
Achieving the feat with his current group of players has made it even more special for Cates. There was minimal turnover from last season, with many key contributors remaining from a 79-11 record over the last three seasons. Cherokee has only dropped one region game in the same span.
“They are hard-nosed kids,” Cates said. “To have them be a part of it is just awesome. Our kids are really good. I love coaching them and being around them. They have a chance to be a really special group.”
Tuesday’s win was not perfect, but Cherokee showed it had made strides from the end of last season. Even with the Lady Warriors not at their best, they still came out with a significant margin of victory.
After the season-opening performance, Cates called this year’s edition of the Lady Warriors a work in progress.
“It was typical November basketball,” he said. “There was a lot of sloppiness and things we need to clean up to be better. We did some things well, but we’ve got to see a lot that we have to work on.”
Karoline Karl led Cherokee with a game-high 22 points as she kicked her senior season off strong. Sophomore Toni Warren added 13 points.
“They were big,” Cates said. “They took advantage of opportunities given by Centennial’s defense. They were the people who were open at the time. We did a good job of finding them, and they did a good job of sharing the basketball.”
The Cherokee boys team was not as fortunate to begin the season as it fell 66-60 to Centennial on the road. Both teams will be back in action Thursday as they host River Ridge.