Howland’s offense ignites to defeat Warren JFK
By ERIC FORTUNE
After going 8-16 last season, the Howland High School boys basketball team very much has been a feel-good story.
Tigers defenders have limited their opponents to 38.5 points per game en route to a 15-5 record.
But Tuesday’s opponent, Warren JFK, has been averaging 68.7 points and had a four-game winning streak.
The Tigers showed they had some offense up their sleeves behind a career-high 33 points from Connor Tamarkin in Howland’s 73-68 victory.
“We played well,” Howland coach Dan Bubon said. “I thought we could have stretched the lead out.
“We had a lot of turnovers tonight and a lot of missed easy ones around the basket,” Bubon said. “To be honest, we needed this. We’ve gone through a stretch lately, where we’ve had some blowout wins.
“They were wins that were easier than we anticipated they would be,” Bubon said. Going into the tournament, we needed one more tough game. We didn’t need to make it that tough — it was chaos. Kids going at it hard. It was a hell of a game.”
At least initially, it looked like the Tigers (16-5) were going to run away, racing out to a 15-3 advantage.
Warren JFK coach Mark Komlanc said the early deficit has been the story of the season for his players.
“We just weren’t aggressive to start there for the first four minutes,” Komlanc said. “Part of the reason is that Terrance King wasn’t in the starting lineup today.
“Terrance does a wonderful job of giving us energy,” Komlanc said. “He wasn’t feeling well and missed practice. My rule is you don’t start the next game. He sat and we were just really passive. We weren’t trapping. We weren’t rotating. Once we got that fixed, we were fine.”
Byron Taylor finished with a team-high 28 points while Tyler James added 19.
Ahead, 40-33, Tamarkin scored Howland’s first nine points in the third quarter.
“Coming out in the second half, we slowed down a little bit and were lazy on defense,” Tamarkin said. “During the rough times, we came together and got through it. Usually, you want to come out on a run coming out from halftime and I figured the shots were there and I wanted us to keep that lead.”
Despite never leading, Warren JFK tied the game at 61 after a bucket from James and the three-point play from the line with 4:23 left.
But the Eagles never went ahead as the Tigers ran off the next five points.
Ahead, 67-66, Howland closed the game out on a 6-2 run as the Eagles settled for jumpers instead of attacking the paint.