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Massucci breaks Howland’s 3-point record

Senior overcomes knee injuries to achieve feat

Staff photo / Brian Yauger. Howland’s Anthony Massucci drives into the lane earlier this season against Austintown Fitch.

HOWLAND — A knee injury is enough to set any young athlete back. Injuring the other one during the recovery process could be enough to kill any hope of returning to the court.

Despite that crushing setback, Howland senior Anthony Massucci fought through both injuries, recovered, and has returned to the court for the Tigers, filling the hoop up in the process.

Last week against Canfield, Massucci surpassed his brother Michael, to become the school’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made with 91.

Things weren’t going well against the Cardinals until Massucci hit his third 3-pointer of the night, the record-breaker, late in the third quarter. That basket sparked the Tigers and they pushed back with a 31-point fourth quarter.

While Howland couldn’t close the game out, the Tigers, just like Massucci after his injuries, came back and powered through.

After the game, while proud, Massucci was far more focused on the team.

“I mean they’re as happy as I am for hitting it,” the Tiger senior said. “I have great teammates to get me involved and find me for shots and (credit to) the coaches for believing in me every game.

“It feels good but never feels as good without a win. I wanted to win the game, but it’s a good personal goal. It’s a bit bittersweet because it’s my brother, but it’s nice to hit it.”

While playing off the sibling rivalry aspect of it, Tigers coach Dan Bubon mentioned that Michael setting the mark was a big inspiration for Anthony to pass his brother up.

Bubon battled against his own brother in the coaching realm when his brother, Gabe, coached at Harding.

“He’s wanted to break that record since he was a sophomore because his brother had it,” Bubon said. “Believe me, I know there’s no greater motivator than wanting to beat your brother.

“Honestly, if he (hadn’t gotten) hurt last year, he might have broken it last year,” Bubon continued. “He missed 13 games. If he didn’t miss those 13 games last year, he might have put this record to a point where it might not get broken for a really, really long time.”

Having been Massucci’s coach over the last four years, Bubon has watched Massucci grow exponentially. Early on in his time with the Tigers, Massucci was a great shooter, but not much else. Since then, his all-around game has transformed and he’s grown into a top-tier player.

“To me, the biggest thing is that his all-around game has gotten so much better,” Bubon said. “When he was a sophomore, he had like 49 threes and pretty much all he was, a shooter. Our other guards drove, kicked out to him, we set some screens for him and he got some shots.

“In between his sophomore and junior year, his all-around game improved, maybe more than any kid I’ve ever coached. He averaged 19 points last year when he got hurt, along with eight rebounds. It’s pretty much that same level this year with really not very good knees. After all the stuff he’s been through with his knees, he’s still playing at an extremely high level. That’s the biggest thing for me, like the record is great, he’s a great shooter, but he’s more than that.”

Due to missing as much time as he did due to injury, the next major individual milestone – 1,000 points – might be unobtainable. That’s not what he was worried about anyways. Massucci’s eyes are set on the tournament and bringing the Tigers a district title.

“I want to win a district championship,” he said. “We’ve got to do whatever it takes. We’ve got to get back in practice, work hard and do whatever it takes to get it.

“Getting hurt last year kind of killed my 1,000-point hopes but I still want to go out and try to get a win every week, every game. A district championship is on my mind right now.”

Massucci and the Tigers will take the next step toward that journey on Tuesday when they travel to Youngstown East.

byauger@tribtoday.com

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