Howland battles through turnovers to topple Brookfield

HOWLAND – Although not being the prettiest game John Diehl’s Howland Tigers played this season, all that matters is the team added another tally in the win column Monday night.

In a sloppy, highly contested non-conference showdown, the Tigers held on to beat Brookfield, 40-33.

“Maybe the pace of the game was too quick for (Brookfield), but of course, it was quick for us too because we had so many turnovers,” Diehl said. “A win’s a win. I’ll take it.”

The Tigers (8-6) couldn’t hold onto the ball early, committing 10 turnovers in the first 8 minutes.

Brookfield (6-8) deployed a three-quarter court trap, which seemed to give Howland lots of problems.

The press allowed the Warriors to collect six steals in that first quarter.

Despite giving the ball away as much as they did, the Tigers took a seven-point lead out of the first and a five-point lead into halftime.

“They did press us there in the first quarter – that three-quarter court press they ran,” Diehl said. “Maybe we had more trouble against their press than I thought we would. I thought that we had that licked, but I guess that we don’t.”

Following a scoreless first half, Howland’s Gabby Cvengros stepped up in the third to maintain the Tiger’s slim lead.

The junior center scored all eight of her points in the third, including two field goals in the first two-and-a-half minutes. She recorded four of the team’s five baskets in the quarter.

Diehl said that he changed the offense against Brookfield’s zone to make Cvengros a focal point, and it paid off.

“Cvengros didn’t have any points in the first half, so we talked to her,” Diehl said. “We did change our zone offense, and she was able to get the ball in the post area and score.”

The Tigers kept the Warriors from getting too close in the fourth quarter, though once again the team struggled with turnovers.

In the final three minutes, the Warriors forced five Tiger turnovers, but missed baskets forced Brookfield to foul late in the game. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they sent Taylor Ginnis to the charity stripe.

With her team up five points, the senior went 3-of-5 from the line in the final minute to seal the win. For her, it was no question who should have the ball once Brookfield started fouling.

“I wanted (the ball),” Ginnis said. “I took the second (set of free throws), and after I made the first shot, I knew that my shots would start falling.”

For Brookfield, a night to forget from the field marred a solid performance on the defensive end.

The Warriors shot 26.2 percent in the game, including a 1-of-10 mark in the final period. Along with the 50 percent mark from the free throw line, they couldn’t take advantage of 24 turnovers by Howland.

“I thought we executed well defensively,” Brookfield coach Shawn Hammond said. “We just couldn’t put the ball in the hoop. We had some wide-open looks, and we just missed layups.

“We executed well, but the end result is all that matters. We didn’t put it in the hoop.”

Brookfield has time to work on that shooting performance, having a two-week break before it takes on Newton Falls.

“We’ve had a rough stretch of games,” Hammond said. “We’re a little banged up. We’re going to get a little rest and get our legs underneath us. We look forward to finishing this last half out and hoping we’re making a few more buckets by tournament time.”

Howland returns to action Thursday against Canfield.