HOWLAND - Starting out the season with four-straight losses, Howland coach Bill Bogan challenged his team to "get out of the corner" before Friday night's game.
The Tigers rose to the challenge, earning the team's first win of the season in its first league game with a 76-65 win over Beaver Local.
"We needed some momentum," senior Brandon Cope said. "We were a hurt animal tonight. We needed to get out of the corner tonight, and that's what we did."
Before getting out of the corner, the Tigers (1-4, 1-0 All-American Conference, American Division) pushed themselves deeper into it.
Returning starting point guard John-Mark Weisman got into foul trouble early, recording his third foul at the 4:41 mark in the first quarter. Up to that point, Weisman had the only Howland points.
From that point on, Howland played without him, and the Tigers struggled for most of the first half against the Beavers' 2-3 zone. Howland players continually attack the inside of the zone, even if the matchups weren't advantageous. Because of this, Beaver Local (4-2, 0-1) took a seven-point lead into halftime.
"In the first half, we just tried to take it to them - one-on-three or one-on-four," Cope said. "It wasn't working very well. So, we needed to kick it inside-out and get better shots."
That's exactly what the Tigers did in the second half.
The Howland offense exploded from beyond the arc, going 7-11 from 3-point land in the period. The Tigers used this shooting display to go on a 28-4 run from the 5:01 mark in the third quarter to the 6:58 mark in the fourth quarter.
Senior Arbie Murray was huge during that run, as he drained four 3-pointers in the third quarter alone. Between the 5:01 and the 2:43 marks in the third quarter, Murray dropped three 3-pointers, which allowed the Tigers to score 14-unanswered points and take the lead.
"Arbie's a returning starter," Bogan said. "I just think he's been pushing himself a little bit too hard. His own expectations of himself have been a little hard. Tonight, he allowed the game to come to him a little bit more."
Another player that stepped up in the second half was the coach's own son, Reece Bogan.
Weisman being out forced the freshman to step up and take the point guard duties full-time, and after one-and-a-half quarters, he found his rhythm, especially in terms of assists.
Bogan recorded five of his game-high six assists in the second half. He found Murray for all four of his three pointers, and when the Beavers started to pressure in order to slow down the Tigers, he kept the turnovers down and the offense rolling.
"Even though he's only a freshman, he's a gym rat," Bill Bogan said of his son Reece. "He's been in the gym since before his could walk. He's got a great grasp of it. He understands the way we want to play. He kind of expect that from him."
Looking forward, the schedule doesn't get any easier, with LaBrae and Poland next week.
"It gets nothing but get tougher from here on through, which is exactly how we want it," Bogan said. "We don't want a cupcake schedule."