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By Jim Flick
After storming out to a big lead in the first quarter, the Howland High School boys basketball team staved off repeated rallies by visiting Poland and hung on for a 66-64 win Tuesday night.
The outcome remained in doubt until the final moments. Poland’s Darius Patton tied the score 64-64 with 57 seconds remaining when he sank two free throws. Patton had made a steal and was fouled while driving to the basket.
Howland’s T.J. Lanier responded, scoring on a short jumper with about 10 seconds left to give the Tigers their margin of victory.
But the game didn’t end there. A Poland player was fouled on the resulting inbounds play, but missed two free throws that could have tied the game.
A Howland player was fouled while rebounding the second missed free throw, but he also failed to connect from the free throw line.
The win kept Howland (10-5) a half-game ahead of Canfield in the All-American Red Division with a 5-1 record. The Tigers have two wins over division rival Poland (11-4, 3-2).
Lanier knocked down 10 field goals and scored 22 points to lead Howland. Dontea Dawson tallied 17 points and snagged a game-high 12 rebounds, while Stephawn Brown added eight points for the Tiger.
Lanier, Dawson and Brown also dominated inside play, allowing Howland to haul down 34 rebounds, compared to only 18 for Poland
The game’s leading scorer was Patton, who scored 27 points for the Bulldogs, including two 3-pointers. Junior Colin Reardon added 21 points.
Howland scored the first 10 points of the game, and built a 15-2 lead in the first quarter. But after falling behind 17-5, Poland started to recover. Wagner and Reardon scored seven unanswered points to pull the Bulldogs to within fine points at 17-12. Lanier sank a field goal to give Howland a 19-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Patton scored the first four points of the second quarter to pull Poland to within three points, 19-16. Howland led at halftime by only two points, 31-29.
“Our big plan was that we wanted to come out being real physical and attack the hoop,” said Howland coach Dan Campana.
Campana said his players followed the plan early, resulting in their big first-quarter lead. “But Poland is Poland, and we knew they’d come back strong.
Poland coach Ken Grisdale said he was disappointed in his team’s play in the first quarter. “You got to play all 32 minutes, and we didn’t play well in first four or five minutes.
Contributing to the lack of manpower is an injury to senior Brandon Maceyko, who recently tore an ACL and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season, according to Patton.