HOWLAND - It was a much better start to the second half of the season than it was when the Howland Tigers girls' basketball team pulled back the curtain on the season.
On Nov. 24 the Tigers lost to Madison, 51-21, in game number one. Monday night Howland rallied in the fourth quarter for a 37-32 home win over the Cardinal Mooney Cardinals.
Tigers coach John Diehl had grown accustomed to 20-win seasons. He'll take the 7-5 record the Tigers have put up to date.
"This is almost exactly where I thought we would be," Diehl said. "The five games we lost were to some pretty good teams - Fitch and Canfield. We have to go down to Struthers (Thursday), and you don't ever want to go under .500. That's why this is a big win for us."
It was a win that was powered by junior Gabby Cvengros, who scored 13 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots. Cvengros saved her best for the fourth period, scoring seven points.
Cvengros agreed with Diehl that it was a big win for what it might mean in the future.
"We've kind of been in a slump lately, and I think we're slowly building back up," Cvengros said.
The Tigers played from behind most of the way. They had a brief one-point lead in the third quarter, but the Cardinals (4-5) took a 28-26 lead into the fourth quarter.
Mooney extended its lead to four points early in the quarter, but fielders by McKenzie Miles and Cvengros tied the score. Nichole Webber put the Cardinals ahead by two, but the Tigers scored the final five points.
"There are no starters from last year," Diehl said. "They're still young. They're only in game 10 of their varsity careers. We have droughts when we don't score.
"Gabby is right. This is going to help them in the long run knowing they can play from behind and not play very well and still win a game. My biggest fear was that we'd get a little bit ahead and do something not real smart basketball-wise, but the girls played really well the last two minutes."
It was a rocky start for the Tigers, who managed just six points to trail by four after the opening period. Howland climbed to within one point, 12-11, in the second quarter, but Mooney scored four of the final seven points to take a 16-14 lead at halftime.
"We started out slow at first," Cvengros said. "We just weren't in the swing of things. We came together because we knew we had to win, and it really changed our season."
Diehl decided to apply more defensive pressure in the second half. The Cardinals had 12 second-half turnovers, including seven in the third quarter.
"We tried to change the tempo of the game a little bit because they were playing zone and we weren't making any outside shots," Diehl said. "I think that changed the tempo of the game a little bit and got us some easy baskets."
Jaclyn Yankle led the Cardinals in scoring with 16 points.