By Greg Gulas
Evan Steele’s 3-pointer with 3 seconds remaining helped lift the Howland boys basketball team to a 52-51, come-from-behind victory over Warren JFK on Tuerday night.
The bucket was his first of the second half and just his second of the game. Both were 3-pointers and the decisive shot resulted from a play that wasn’t even designed to have him touch the ball.
“I thought that Brendan [Cope] was going to shoot the ball when he got it off the inbound pass. I was surprised that it ended up in my hands and knowing we were down with time running out, I knew I had to shoot quickly,” Steele said. “I love the 3-point shot, so everything just worked out in our favor tonight.”
Cope led all scorers with 24 points and was the only Howland player in double figures.
“We didn’t trust each other at the outset, but did so as the game went on. “The defense collapsed so it was easy to kick it out to Evan [Steele] for the open shot,” Cope said. “With this win we now have back-to-back wins and some much needed momentum.”
The Tigers (3-7) dropped seven of their first eight contests to start the year, but are now 2-0 in 2013.
The Eagles (3-7) have lost four in a row and five of their last seven games.
Six points each by Cope and John-Mark Weisman in the opening period staked the Tigers to a 15-14 lead after the first 8 minutes of play.
Cope then added nine more points in the second quarter as Howland outscored the Eagles, 20-12, in the quarter for a 35-26 halftime margin.
“We’re a good team when we trust our teammates,” Tigers coach Bill Bogan said. “They [Warren JFK] did an excellent job on us defensively to start the game but we were able to pick up the tempo in the second quarter. Brendan showed tremendous confidence in his teammate, drawing the defense in the final seconds and then kicking it out to Evan for the game-winning bucket. It’s taken us a little while to get to this point, but we’re continuing to make strides and getting better each and every game.”
A bucket by Cope just 34 seconds into the third period enabled Howland to open its largest lead of the game at 39-26, but seven points by Dominic Naples keyed a 15-6 run by the Eagles as they pulled to within 45-41 after three quarters.
Two free throws by the Eagles’ Preston Caparanis then tied the game at 46 with 3:05 remaining and a bucket by Robert Seger with 15 seconds remaining gave Warren JFK a 51-49 advantage.
Steele’s game-winning shot followed.
“I couldn’t ask for a better defensive effort tonight but give Howland credit as well,” Eagles coach Shawn Pompelia said. “We fought back from a 13-point deficit to take the lead. Going just 11 of 22 from the free-throw won’t win you many games and it hurt us tonight.”
Naples registered a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Seger also had 16 points for Warren JFK.
Both teams shot well from the field. Howland was 20 of 36. Warren JFK was 19 of 38.
Like the Eagles, the Tigers struggled at the line, making just 7 of 12 foul shots.