Howland defense stifles Niles

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Anezah Fryer, right, of Niles dribbles against Howland’s Ka’Rina Mallory Wednesday.

HOWLAND — Howland took a big lead early and Niles couldn’t recover as the Tigers won, 49-17, Wednesday night to extend their winning streak to eight games.

In the first quarter, Howland (11-3) played great defense, as Niles (3-7) couldn’t get off any good shots. The Tigers led 14-0 after one quarter.

“They are a good basketball team. Coach (John) Diehl always does a good job with his girls. We are just struggling to find the hoop,” Niles coach Doug Foster said. “I thought in the first half that we played hard but we couldn’t get a bucket.”

The second quarter wasn’t any different for either side as Howland led 26-2 at halftime. The Tigers were led by Gabby Hartzell with 10 points and Mackenzie Maze with eight. Niles was led by Kenzi Johnston with the Red Dragons’ only points.

“Any time you hold a team to two points in the first half, you have to be impressed, I don’t care who you’re playing. They didn’t really get any good looks at the basket,” Diehl said. “The girls did a nice job on defense.”

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Lindsay Hayes (34) of Niles and Kendyl Buckley of Howland battle for possession of the ball Wednesday night.

Part of Howland’s big win was the rebounding battle as the Tigers won that, 44-18. Kendyl Buckley led the Tigers with 14 rebounds and Alex Ochman had nine points with 11 rebounds.

Despite the large win, Mackenzie Maze takes each game at a time.

“Even though the score was kind of crazy, we still try our best at everything. Defense especially, since defense wins games. We have a big game coming up Saturday, so you have to play hard every single game,” Maze said.

Niles never quit despite the score, as it scored 11 fourth-quarter points. Sierra Werden scored all five of her points in the quarter.

“I told them at halftime that I wasn’t concerned with the score. They kept fighting and playing hard and that is all I can ask for. That’s all I ever ask. I can live with the results if they are playing hard but you have to make buckets to win,” Foster said.

Now Howland looks ahead to its rematch against Canfield on Saturday.

“We treat games like these as a big practice. Canfield is our biggest rival this year so we’re kind of preparing for that game, Maze said. “As the year went on, we’ve become more confident and we believe in each other. We take each game together.”