Tigers take control with big second half

Tribune Chronicle / Bob Ettinger Madison Meeker of Lakeview is fouled by Samarra Caffey of Howland in a semifinal of the Toni Ross Spirit Foundation Tournament at Howland on Friday night. Howland beat the Bulldogs, 38-34, in the season opener for both teams.

HOWLAND — It doesn’t take much to swing the momentum in your favor in a basketball game.

The Howland girls felt that momentum shift away from it to close the first half, but managed to swing it back its own way to start the second. Once the Tigers had control of it, they didn’t let go in holding on for a 38-34 victory over Lakeview in a Toni Ross Spirit Foundation Tournament semifinal Friday night at Howland.

After the Bulldogs (0-1, 0-1 All-American Conference, Red Tier) took a five-point lead into the locker room at the half, the Tigers (1-0, 1-0) used a 9-0 run to take a 24-20 lead just more than midway through the third period. Kayla Clark scored all six of her points during that stretch and Mackenzie Maze added a 3-pointer.

“We were kind of rushing things, I thought,” Howland coach John Diehl said. “You can rush and still play under control. We had four two-on-one situations and we came up empty on all four. We played more under control in the second half.

“Clark had a great second half in her first varsity start.”

Tribune Chronicle / Bob Ettinger Sara Price of Howland goes over teammate Kayla Clark for a shot as Camie Becker of Lakeview looks on in a semifinal of the Toni Ross Spirit Foundation Tournament at Howland.

Howland plays Ursuline, a 55-41 winner over Madison in the other semifinal, in the championship game tonight at 7:30. Lakeview battles the Blue Streaks in the consolation game at 6 p.m.

The Tigers built a six-point advantage, 28-22, with 1:50 remaining in the third, behind consecutive buckets from Sara Price and Maze before Annie Pavlansky got it back to four with a bucket in the waning seconds of the quarter.

A layup from Maze gave Howland a 32-26 edge with 5:53 to play in the contest, but Madison Meeker tallied a bucket and later made a free throw to get the Bulldogs within three, 32-29, with 5:02 left. Two free throws from Pavlansky made it 34-31 with 3:27 remaining.

“Howland obviously got up in the third quarter because they needed to,” Lakeview coach Jason Senedak said. “I think maybe we just got a little stuck for a moment. All of a sudden, we started working again.

“They did a lot of nice things, but we had plenty of opportunities to do what we needed to come out ahead,” Senedak added. “We were down three with four minutes to go. That’s one possession. It’s not like we couldn’t have converted. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen. Howland did some nice things, but we didn’t help ourselves.”

Maze connected on a layup and Price scored on a feed from Maze to extend the Howland to 38-31 with 2:37 to go. Meeker scored a triple 15 seconds later to close the gap, but they were the final points of the night.

“Remember, they are a good team,” Diehl said. “They were district champs last year and they have four starters back. I’m not looking forward to playing them at their place.

“Samarra Caffey was a starter last year and came off the bench tonight. She could have completely given up. She scored six points and was 3 of 4 from the field. She did a nice job off the bench. We played nine kids. I think we wore them down, too. Down the stretch, we were fresher.

The rivals traded points for nearly 15 minutes before Lakeview used a 3-pointer from Pavlansky and a bucket from Leah Franks on a feed from Pavlansky to take a 20-15 lead into the intermission.

“The girls were locked in,” Senedak said. “They listened and executed exactly what I asked them to do.”

“We went to a zone and we lost Pavlansky,” Diehl said. “She was able to score. In the second half, we didn’t play a zone at all. When they have a great shooter, you have to watch her or don’t play a zone.”

Senedak took the loss in his debut as the Bulldogs’ coach.

“I always want to win,” Senedak said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t want to win. We will have a lot of opportunities to be successful. It doesn’t faze me either way. If we won tonight, great. We lost tonight and it is what it is. We’ll move forward. This time last year, we lost to Howland and at the end of the season we were in a different spot. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”