GIRLS Howland's defense does job
Austintown Fitch had more turnovers than points in the first half.
By GARY HOUSTEAU
HOWLAND -- Howland High began the game on a shooting streak, sprinting out to a 14-2 lead against Austintown Fitch, and went on to defeat the Falcons 57-34 in a girls non-conference basketball game Thursday.
The Tigers' 16-6 advantage after one quarter, said Howland coach John Diehl, was the result of their play at the other end of the floor.
Setting the tone: "Our defense, I think, set the tone," he said. "We've had really good first quarters defensively in the last few games and, coming out, [Fitch] kept trying to pound it inside and I think our girls did a nice job on the inside making a lot of steals."
Fitch had more turnovers (17) than points (12) in the first half, and finished with 28 miscues for the game.
"The defense, I think, forced their turnovers," Diehl said. "We're quick, a lot quicker than people think. I thought today's game went kind of slow, however, but they were playing zone and usually a zone will do that to a quicker team."
Going into the game, the Falcons thought they would be able to have a strong inside game against Howland.
"We felt we would be able to handle the ball better against them than we did and we felt we would have a better opportunity with our inside game than we did," said Fitch coach Mary Ann McGahagan. "We tried to force the issue a number of times, a number of times we made good passes inside and our big people fumbled the ball, we didn't take a good shot selection. It was a combination of everything. We just didn't play good basketball."
Top Tiger: Marianne Krezeczowski, who led Howland with 17 points while suffering from the flu, had 10 in the first half points as the Tigers led 29-12. The Tigers made half of their 26 first-half shots and finished the game at 44 percent.
"We've got some really good shooters but I wish we could have drove a little better against their zone," Diehl said. "We were just fortunate those first few shots went in to give us the lead and eventually it forced them to go man-to-man."
The Falcons out-scored Howland 12-11 in the third period, as Kim Buhro scored seven of her game-high 19 points. Buhro also tied Howland's Marianne Krezeczowski with nine rebounds.
"In the second half I thought we came out with more intensity," McGahagan said. "We started playing a little bit more team-oriented basketball. But when you're going against a good team and you put yourself down in a hole by that much, you're exerting all kinds of energy just to get back in the ball game and it takes a lot out of you."
Fitch trailed 40-24 after three quarters and couldn't get closer than 43-28 with 5 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in the contest.
Canfield next: "We haven't played since Saturday, so this was a nice tune-up for Canfield [Saturday]," Diehl said. "But in the second half we weren't as patient as we were in the first half.
"So if anything we need to be more patient, especially against Canfield because they play tremendous defense."