Finding a fill-in

Howland tops Flashes with veteran Tamarkin sidelined

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Howland’s Frankie Manios, left, and Champion’s Joe Abramovich, right, chase the loose ball during Friday’s game at Howland High School.

HOWLAND — Connor Tamarkin was ruled out Friday morning with a wrist injury, even though it was probably just for one game.

It wasn’t broken. Breathe that proverbial sigh of relief.

The senior point guard is a seasoned veteran — a three-year starter on the Howland boys basketball team. Coach Dan Bubon had to wonder who would start the team’s offense Friday against Champion.

Add to that, Tamarkin averages 20 points per game.

Bubon found out early on, he didn’t have many worries in a 60-48 victory at Howland High School.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Champion’s Drake Batcho makes a move in the post on Howland’s Nathan Barrett during Friday’s game at Howland High School. Howland won, 60-48.

The combination of Samari Dean, Jonah Weisman and Frank Rappach combined for 42 of the team’s points.

“We have a lot of seniors, so I thought we would be good,” Bubon said. “There are times we missed him because he’s our primary ball handler. We look for him a lot. The other kids shared the ball and they didn’t hesitate to shoot.

“That’s what I worried about.”

The Tigers (4-2) began pressing the Champion team, which went eight deep. Howland began to utilize its depth and wear down the Golden Flashes (3-3), who had 17 turnovers.

That combined with giving up nine offensive rebounds in the first half damaged the Golden Flashes’ chances.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Howland’s Branden Fronzaglio makes a reverse layup during Friday’s game against Champion at Howland High School.

Howland began the game going up 18-8 after Dean, who had a team-high 15 points, had a putback with less than 3 minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The Golden Flashes roared back with a 9-0 run to end the quarter and come with in one of the Tigers.

“That’s what got us in the hole,” Champion coach Nate Kish said. “We worked hard to get back out of it. It’s tough to play like that, get yourself down and having to play like that — you waste a lot of energy.”

Champion still stayed close in the second quarter, but committed seven of its 17 turnovers in that stanza. Combine that with 13 Howland steals.

“Our kids are in great physical shape,” Bubon said. “They’ve worked so hard this offseason. They’re so much stronger and had so much more endurance than we had last year that we thought it would be to our advantage tonight.”

Weisman, who played most of the fourth quarter with four fouls, had 14 points.

He and Rappach, who had 13 points, did most of the ball handling, but more importantly kept possession. Howland only committed eight turnovers.

Smart passing with quick movement around the perimeter helped the Tigers keep the Golden Flashes off balance.

“As the game went along, we spread them out a little more,” Bubon said. “That’s where we got things, drive and dive cutters to the hoop as opposed to throwing into the post. There wasn’t anything there.”

Champion had six more miscues in the third quarter when Drake Batcho had 10 of his game-high 24 points, along with 10 rebounds.

The 6-foot-4 senior, who is better known as a pitcher committed to the University of Cincinnati, was a dominant force for the Golden Flashes.

Howland has won some tight games and lost a couple, but the Tigers were 0-5 at this point last season.

“Feeling pretty good,” Bubon said.

The team only committed two turnovers in the final quarter as Howland averaged a 10-point lead in the final 8 minutes.

Combine that with going to the line a handful of times made it easier for the Tigers to cope without Tamarkin.

“We did what we had to do,” Bubon said.

Next Friday, Howland is at the Sharon, Pa., Holiday Tournament, while Champion travels to Bristol.