In its tournament opener, Howland shot the ball well and played strong defense.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
AUSTINTOWN -- Howland coach John Diehl probably had a large lump in his throat.
After his Tigers earned the top seed for the Division II sectional tournament at Austintown Fitch High School, Diehl watched Rayen, the City Series champion, grab the tournament's lowest seed.
"I was just thinking, 'Oh great. Why couldn't it be someone else?' " Diehl said. "This team definitely scared me."
But on Wednesday night, it was Howland that looked scary.
Howland used excellent ball movement to carve up Rayen for a 25-10 first quarter advantage en route to a 70-45 victory in the tournament's opening round.
Quinlan stars: "We feared them," said Howland's Darcy Quinlan, who scored a game-high 19 points and added eight assists. "We were scared about what would happen, but we just shot very well tonight. We opened things up for each other and our shots were falling. That was the main thing."
Howland hit 11 of 18 shots in the first quarter and forced seven Rayen turnovers. Howland (19-2) had a 38-19 halftime lead.
"The first half, I was ecstatic," Diehl said. "We shot well and we came out and rebounded well even though they can jump higher than us. A couple times we got four or five shots."
The game was never in doubt in the second half as Howland took a 35-point lead at one point.
Much help: Emily Andrews added 16 points and six rebounds for Howland. Marianne Krezeczowski scored 12 and added 16 rebounds and seven steals. Meredith Schneider added 10 points.
Kristina Ferenac was one of the game's unsung heroes, guarding Rayen's senior standout Cherrell Triplett, who averages 20 points per game.
Ferenac held Triplett to three.
"Kristina just did an excellent job," Diehl said. "She had [Triplett] frustrated and she never got into an offensive flow."
Rayen's leaders: Freshman Taniesha Holland led Rayen with 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Junior Erica Wilson had 15 points and six rebounds and Triplett added seven blocks.
Howland will play Chaney at 2:45 p.m. Saturday.
"Anything can happen," Quinlan said. "We beat Poland twice this season and then we go to Salem and they stomp on us. The tournament is a clean slate and everyone is out to win.
"You always have to be ready."