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Etowah forward Mason Etter sets up a play against Cherokee guard Braylin Giddens during the Eagles’ 69-58 road win on Friday.

CANTON — The Etowah boys basketball team took down Cherokee, 69-58, in Friday night’s road matchup. The Eagles evened their record at 8-8 this season and improved to 1-2 in Region 5AAAAAAA competition.

Cherokee led for much of the first half but surrendered a massive third-quarter run to Etowah. After leading 34-33 at halftime, the Eagles went on a 24-13 run that put them in an excellent position to seal the win. Etowah coach Jason Dasinger believes a significant part of the second-half turnaround came from his team limiting Cherokee’s impact on the glass.

“We boxed out a little bit better,” Dasinger said. “[Cam Pope] is a really good player for them, and three of his five 3-pointers in the first half were on kick-outs from offensive boards. It is hard to guard the perimeter on offensive boards. We told our guys to keep playing the same defense but go get the board. We rolled up stops at that point.”

In the tide-turning second half, Etowah benefitted from an offensive surge from Brandon Rechsteiner and Mason Etter. The pair became more comfortable, scoring 21 and 18 points, respectively. Dajaun Devonish added 21 points of his own and helped keep the Eagles afloat on offense in the first half.

Cherokee cut the lead down to single digits in the fourth quarter, though turnovers and sloppy offensive play ruined any momentum it had gained. Rechsteiner, in particular, began heating up in the third quarter. His drives and scores put some serious pressure on the Warriors’ already stumbling defense.

“We shoot it a lot, and it opens up everything,” Dasinger said. “When we hit a few, we were able to go down to mason a little bit, and then Brandon and Dajaun had driving lanes. We just need one guy to go off.”

Cam Pope had another hot-shooting night for Cherokee, scoring 29 points with six 3-pointers. Outside of Pope, however, the Warriors struggled to find consistent production. Cherokee’s only other player to score in double-figures was Tayden Owens, with 11 points.

The ball was flying around the court for Etowah, especially between Josh Hughes and Etter in the post. The Eagles took a 40-33 lead on an impressive bounce pass from Hughes to Etter between two Cherokee defenders. Even when the pair is not scoring, their presence opens the offense up for Etowah’s dynamic set of backcourt players.

“We did not go to them a lot in the beginning of the year, and we realized we can post up and get a better three regardless of what happens,” Dasinger said. “They can score, but they are probably some of the best passers on the team.”

Etowah had five different players record at least one made 3-pointer in Friday’s win. The pair of Devonish and Rechsteiner also combined for 11 made free throws. Dasinger was happy to see multiple players step into major roles while visiting one of the county’s strongest units.

“It is big,” Dasinger said. “We played the schedule we played for a reason. We wanted to be ready for the region. We have played a lot of top five teams. We are getting better every game, and it is big to have those guys contribute against really good teams. It is a process for us.”

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