VOORHEES – Ron Powell has seen it all before.
The fact is that the Cherokee girls basketball coach has seen very little on the court before.
Faced with a motivated loser home team that invaded to eliminate the 11-point deficit, Powell worked on his magic for the last 6.1 seconds, which included a free throw, two rebounds, theft, two more penalties and one exciting victory over Eastern with a score of 37-36 in the semifinals of the Invitational South Jersey. On Sunday afternoon at 4:30 Cherokee, who received the first number, will meet with number 2 Shawnee for the SJIBT title. The victory would be the first Cherokee crown after the three-year 2017-19 season.
It will also be Powell’s 600th win in his coaching career.
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“It’s really cool, and it’s cool to be a part of the program,” senior guard Katie Fricker said. “We were able to win so much. The coach is definitely the biggest part of this. He puts so much effort into every practice, every game, even on the days that we rest, as he tells us what he thought on the weekend. ”
Powell’s influence is most evident in his players. Cherokee plays a deliberately, disciplined style that brings the biggest dividends at the end of upcoming games such as the semifinals on Friday night.
And why not?
As noted, Powell had been there before. Powell began his career with a 16-year tenure as coach of the Rankakas Valley boys, where he won two state championships in three seasons from 1996 to 1998. For the next 11 years he moved on to the Cherokee Boys program and won the Group 4 championship in 2010. He remains the only coach to have won Group 4 titles at two different schools.
After several years of rest Powell switched gears. He is already in the seventh season leading the program for Cherokee girls. Powell knew what to say when it turned out that the wheels were coming off the Eastern.
“He’s just telling us to remember the basics,” said senior guard CJ Apistar. “You know, it’s important to turn around. It is very important to be strong with the ball. It just reminds us of the basics we work on every day in practice. He just tells us if you ever have trouble, watch out for an open girl.
Powell – and his teams – can count on simple and easy corrections during timeouts, because they have always been relentlessly preparing for the most difficult situations. The training had long been done by the time Powell called the timeout.
Boys coach Shawnee Joe Kessler spent most of his early career fighting Powell during his 16 years at Rankakas Valley and 11 years with the Cherokee boys. He is now watching what Powell has achieved from the girls as a fan.
Watching Powell’s coach is more enjoyable than playing against his teams.
“It’s hard because he hasn’t been in the boys’ game for a while, ”Kessler said. “On the day we played, he was always very prepared. His teams are playing tough. They are aggressive and we knew that going there would always be a good game. ”
And milestones continue to accumulate. Powell won 437 games as a coach for the boys. He added 162 – with only 21 losses – with the Cherokee girls. His next win will make him the 13th South Jersey basketball coach to win 600 games. Only Bill Ulrich, who has won 704 games with the Sterling Boys and Girls program plus time with Asbury Park boys, has in his resume a team of both boys and girls.
Powell’s current team isn’t exactly concerned about his place in history. However, they know even when trying to hide details from their coach.
“I remember in eighth grade we watched him win the 500th,” Apistar said. “Of course, it’s nice to be with him, so that the number 600 will appear soon.”
This last milestone made an impact. And set the tone for what happened.
“I remember him turning 500 when I was in eighth grade, so it was only four years ago,” Fricker said. “It’s really impressive to have 100 wins in four years. I’m really lucky to be a part of it. ”
Shawnee could be part of the №600 victory. The renegades will meet with Cherokee on Sunday in the SJIBT final and again in the American Division Olympic Conference game on Tuesday.
The Renegades won the championship with an impressive victory over Lenape with a score of 46-23 after leading 21-4 at the break.
“It’s hard to beat the team three times, and we knew Lenape would be strong,” said senior Anna Lacovara. I wasn’t going to do that. ”
The next day, “Renegades” will receive the second and third matches at Cherokee, and next month will be the fourth meeting in the playoffs of the 4th group of South Jersey. Shawnee will hopefully postpone any important celebrations for a while.
“We will definitely have a tough game ahead of us,” said Lacovar. better and how we know we can play. ”
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