Back-and-forth battle

Howland tops Girard; moves on to district semis

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Girard’s Mark Waid dives for a loose ball Friday at Howland. The Tigers’ Nathan Barrett (440) and Frank Rappach (3) watch the play.

HOWLAND — Howland defeated Girard, 64-56, Friday night in a back-and-forth contest in a Division II sectional bracket final. The Tigers (18-5) advance to meet Struthers next week in a district semifinal at Boardman High School.

Quickly, it seemed that Howland wanted the game more than Girard (12-12) and it showed on the scoreboard. Howland led 9-0 after a Frank Rappach 3-pointer caused Girard to take a timeout with 5:10 left in the first quarter.

Girard responded after the timeout, as the Indians and Tigers were tied at 13 at the end of the first quarter.

“I’ve been coaching Girard kids for six years now and I know one thing; they don’t stop. That is a veteran, seven-senior group and we knew that they would come out ready,” Girard coach Craig Hannon said. “We responded to every bit of adversity. I’m darn proud of the team. They could’ve very easily folded over and they didn’t.”

In the second quarter, Girard started with a 3-pointer before Howland went on an 8-0 run. Howland took a two-point halftime lead at 25-23. Nathan Barrett led the Tigers with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Austin O’Hara had seven points for the Indians.

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Girard’s Christian Graziano (22) looks for an open teammate while being guarded by Howland’s Frank Rappach (3) Friday night.

In the third quarter, the game looked to be slipping away from the Indians as Howland started the half on a 10-2 run that caused a Girard timeout.

Howland continued the onslaught, as it was on a 20-4 run before an Austin Claussell 3-pointer stopped the bleeding for Girard.

Howland led 47-33 at the end of three quarters.

“They played a tournament game already. The worst thing that could’ve happened was that we beat them real bad a few weeks ago. It’s hard telling these kids that it’ll be different,” Howland coach Dan Bubon said. “Craig is a really good coach and one of the best in the area. I knew that they would be ready to go.”

Howland beat Girard back on Feb. 13, 60-33.

In the fourth quarter, Girard used a small ball lineup to begin its comeback. The Indians started the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run which caused a Howland timeout with 6:11 to go.

Girard got to within two points before a Connor Tamarkin 3 put the game out of reach as Howland got the win.

“We weren’t really scoring. Coach usually looks to me to get a score. (Nolan) Brill hit me with that pass and I made the play,” Tamarkin said about his clutch shot. “We expected them to come at us hard.”

Tamarkin also said that without the play of Barrett, they very well might not have won the game. Barrett finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds.

Girard was led by O’Hara with 18 points and four assists.