By Jim Flick
What was a close game early turned into a one-sided affair in the second half as the Howland High girls basketball team defeated Canfield 63-44 Thursday.
Canfield (4-2) held a 13-10 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 20-19 in the second quarter.
But then Howland (6-0) exploded, scoring 11 unanswered points. The Tigers scored the last seven points of the first half, then scored the first four points of the second half to take a 30-20 lead.
Howland was led junior Erika Nites, who poured in 22 points. Taylor Williams, a junior, added 12 points for the Tigers, while senior Kaylee Redon scored 11 points and junior Olivia Nicholas pitched in with eight points.
Canfield’s leading scorer was senior Katlin Kaleel with 15 points, while senior Cally Wollett connected for 10 points.
“We wore them down,” said Howland coach John Diehl. “We pressed and ran a lot to wear them out.”
Diehl praised Nites, whose eight baskets included two 3-pointers in the first half.
“When she gets the ball in her hands, she has a habit of finding a way to score,” he said.
A key contribution, Diehl added, came from junior Natalie Silbaugh. She came off the bench and launched two long-range 3-pointers late in the third quarter that pushed Howland’s lead to 42-33.
Silbaugh’s 3-pointers “gave us a big boost,” the coach said.
“They’re an excellent team, and we’re trying to become an excellent team,” said Canfield coach Pat Pavlansky. “It’s a process, and we’re going to get there this season.”
The Cardinals started fast Thursday, scoring the first four points and leading all through the first quarter. Canfield led 4-0 after junior Sara Vrabel and sophomore Abby Baker connected, and led 6-3 after Kaleel put the ball in the hoop for her first points of the night.
Howland pulled even for the first time when Nites connected on a 3-pointer to start the second quarter, tying the score at 17-17.
The Cardinals only scored a single basket in the remainder of the quarter, Wollett’s first 3-pointer, before the Tigers started their 11-0 streak.
Canfield came back to life in the third quarter, and trailed only 32-29 after sophomore Sabrina Mangapora scored a two-pointer.
After Howland’s William hit a short jumper to boost the Tiger’s lead to five points, Canfield’s Kaleel scored to again pull the Cardinals within three points at 34-31.
But Nites scored on a driving layup, and Silbaugh launched her pair of 3-point bombs, and Howland led 42-33 after three quarters.
Howland outscored Canfield 21-11 in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.
The game was the conference opener for both teams, which are both members of the All-American Conference Red Division.