The Tigers and Poland lead the Metro Athletic Conference race.
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
HOWLAND -- The Howland High girls basketball scored only two more points against Canfield than it did the first time the two teams met earlier this season.
This time, those 48 points were enough for an 11-point victory over the Cardinals instead of the 19-point loss Howland suffered in the first matchup.
The Tigers' 48-37 victory Saturday kept Howland (13-1, 5-1) at the top of the Metro Athletic Conference standings along with Poland.
Canfield (11-5, 4-2) won the first game between the two teams, 65-46.
So what was the difference this time?
Howland coach John Diehl said, "Obviously, it was defense.
"Last time we tried to press [Canfield] full court and this time we played back at half court," Diehl said. "Even though it was 10-9 after the first quarter last game, my girls were spent."
Aggressive: The Tigers' aggressive defense wouldn't let Canfield's offense get untracked in the first half. Canfield committed eight turnovers in the first quarter and 20 in the game.
The Cardinals only were able to get off 12 shots in the first two periods and made just four of them. By halftime, Canfield was down 26-11.
"We didn't decide to play basketball until the second half," Canfield coach Pat Pavlansky said. "We did things in the second half that we wanted to do in the first half.
"It shouldn't take a halftime speech to make you do the things you know you need to do."
Canfield outscored Howland 26-22 in the second half, but it wasn't nearly enough.
Not only did Howland play great defense in the first half, but offensively it jumped on the Cardinals quick.
Leader: Darcy Quinlan scored nine points in the first quarter and went on to score a season-high 17 points.
"This was by far Darcy's best offensive game," Diehl said. "She got a lot of good looks and took advantage of being able to score off back-door plays."
Diehl said that his team's four-high offense, which enabled the Tigers to get many easy layups in the first half, was run much better than it was in the first contest.
"The first time we played we had just begun to learn this new four-high offense," Diehl said. "We ran it poorly last time, but the girls understand and executed it much better this time."
Senior Marianne Krezeczowski, the Tigers' leading scorer, also enjoyed the benefits of Howland's offense as she scored 18 points.
Late surge: While the Tigers were in control for most of the game, Canfield did make one run late in the third quarter to close a 36-16 deficit down to 36-26 early in the fourth quarter.
But Krezeczowski scored eight points in the final period to thwart the rout.
"We scored 26 points in the second half after we got more aggressive going to the basket," Pavlansky said. "If we score 26 in both halves, it's a different story.
"Give Howland credit," Pavlansky said. "They are a good team that played very well. We're also a good team that didn't play as well. That was the difference tonight."
Canfield's leading scorer, Erin Martin, was held to 10 points on 4 of 15 shooting from the field.
Jill Vertanen scored eight points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Cardinals.