Walking tall

HOWLAND – There’s a little discrepancy in relation to Howland senior Gabby Cvengros’ height.

Her coach, John Diehl, said she stands just 5-foot-8, yet the roster lists the senior forward at 5-10.

Whatever her official height may be, Cvengros seemed even taller than that against Poland, as she swatted away nine shot en route to a 57-30 Tiger win at Howland High School.

“She’s our leader in (shot) blocking, and she just has excellent timing,” Diehl said. “Gabby blocked a lot of shots, so she had a real nice night tonight.”

With the Tigers (4-4, 2-3 All-American Conference, American Division) coming off a loss to Struthers, Cvengros said she wanted to pick up the defensive intensity, and she did just that – early and often.

The senior forward amassed five blocks in the first half, including a 2-minute span early in the second quarter when she denied three Bulldogs (4-4, 2-3 AAC, American) in the paint. She also blocked two shots on the same Poland possession early in the third quarter to emphasize Howland’s dominance inside.

Although the senior disrupted shots all game long, Cvengros didn’t record a single foul in the game. She finished with a game-high 16 points.

“I make sure that I time it well because if you time it bad, your body is going to hit them,” Cvengros said. “I wait for the shot and make sure that I get my hands on the ball just to get the clean block.”

Poland coach Nick Blank observed how much Cvengros and teammate Sara Price, who blocked three shots herself, affected the flow of the offense, as the Bulldogs went on to shoot less than 22 percent from the field. Despite the struggles in the paint, the Bulldogs continued to drive into the lane, attempting only five of their 56 shots from beyond the arc.

“It was just trying to get to the hole, which we like to do, but they had Cvengros and Sara Price come in and they’re good shot blockers,” Blank said. “They’re very disciplined, they don’t foul when they do it and it kind of threw us off a little bit. It made us second-guess ourselves when we were going into basket on what we really wanted to do.”

To go along with the low-post defense, the Tigers also harassed the Poland ballhandlers early, forcing turnovers, which allowed Howland to jump out to a 20-point lead with 3:06 remaining in the second quarter. Junior guard Lexi Ross seemed to be at the center of most of the pressure, collecting a game-high four steals for the Tigers.

“Lexi Ross is a great defender,” Diehl said. “She caused a lot of havoc, caused some turnovers, and they had to use a different point guard than the one they were using. Anytime you take your point guard away, that changes the flow of your offense. I think Lexi did a nice good job doing that tonight.”

Following the win, both Diehl and Cvengros said they are looking forward to Saturday’s matchup with Boardman. They both said the win over Poland should give them confidence against one of the better teams on the Tigers’ regular-season schedule.

“Boardman’s one of the top four teams we play this year,” Diehl said. “I know their record is a little deceiving, but they play in the Federal League. So, we can get a good game out of this Saturday.”