Pope

Cherokee’s Cam Pope leads the Warriors into the 2021 Deep South Classic. After 10 days off, Cherokee looks to kick off the season’s second half on a high note.

Following a 10-day hiatus, the Cherokee boys basketball team is preparing for an appearance at the Deep South Classic in Snellville, GA. The Warriors head into the tournament with a county-best nine wins at the 2021-22 season’s midpoint.

Cherokee’s first matchup at this week’s tournament is with a 9-2, Anderson, SC-based T.L. Hanna. The Tuesday game will be a significant test for the Warriors, fresh out of the winter break.

“For us, it is a chance to hit the reset button,” coach Joe Veihman said. “We are about halfway through the season, and we have done some things that we are happy with, but it was a good time to step away and reflect on what we have done to this point.”

The Warriors had three games in five days before the break, and Veihman said it was nice to have a break from the grueling schedule. Cherokee’s emphasis over the next few games will be trying to get its players healthy and remain at full strength while wins and losses matter most.

“We are trying to make sure we get healthy,” Veihman said. “We have some people dealing with sickness and injuries. Teams are trying to get their rotation set and their lineups set as we move into region play. We still have some guys who are working their way back.”

There is a heightened focus on lineups as region competition begins. Cherokee has the best overall record in Region 5AAAAAAA at 9-4 but has only split its pair of region games so far and trails the 3-0 Milton.

For Cherokee, however, its head coach believes the best is still yet to come. The Warriors have shown significant progress this season but have still beat quality teams, including Marist and Sequoyah. Cherokee has some younger players seeing big minutes this season and hopes to become even more comfortable as a team while learning how to play better together in the season’s back half.

“We had a meeting before the break and talked about it,” Veihman said. “If you look at us when we started in June, to preseason workouts and then now, I think we have definitely made progress, certainly from a skill development standpoint.”

Cherokee’s schedule picks back up with a tough opponent in T.L. Hanna, but the Warriors are embracing the challenge. Cherokee hopes to see junior guard Tayden Owens continue to be a difference-maker on the floor, along with offensive spark plug Cam Pope.

“This will be a great way to get back into things,” Veihman said. “They are a good squad and have some really good players up and down the lineup. They will certainly give us some challenges, but that is what we are looking for. Going into the second half of the season, we want to test ourselves before heading into region play.”

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