YOUNGSTOWN — After starting the season off with three wins over Poland, Lakeview and Newton Falls, Howland suffered its first loss of the year. The Tigers fell in a road contest to Chaney, 55-35.
For a team that’s been hovering around the 60-point mark, the Tigers’ biggest issue Friday was getting their offense going.
“We ran no offense and that killed us,” Howland coach Dan Bubon said. “Defensively, I thought we played great the whole game. I thought we fought, I thought we matched their physicality. Just on the offensive end, we didn’t have any flow. We kept looking to Anthony (Massucci) and he had his worst game of the year.
“We’ll get better. We’re 3-1, we’re playing well. That’s a very good team. They’re district champs two years in a row and we held them to 55 points. If you hold a team to 55, you still have a good chance to win.”
The Tigers went into halftime trailing by five, but the Cowboys amped the pressure up in the second half and Howland couldn’t match.
“When you go through a stretch like we did, we probably went a good four or five minutes without scoring, the other team just gets more relaxed and free on offense,” Bubon said. “Then they made some plays and got a couple offensive rebounds, we turned the ball over. We turned it over way more tonight than we have in any other game, because we got sped up.”
Massucci led the team on the scoreboard with 13 points and six rebounds. Alex Henry tacked on eight points.
Next week is another tough one for the Tigers, as they face off with rival Kennedy on Tuesday and Ursuline on Friday.
With plenty of experience returning from last year’s squad, Bubon has high hopes for his team. It’s just a matter of getting all the pieces to fall into place.
“We expect to be very good, very competitive, we just have to get a little better,” Bubon said. “We have Kennedy and then we go to Ursuline on Friday. This doesn’t get easier for us but that’s what we want.”
It took a while for Chaney to get started, but once it did, the Cowboys were firing on all cylinders.
“Howland is a really good team,” Chaney coach Marlon McGaughy said. “They’re a well-coached team, so we knew we were going to have problems tonight. We didn’t rebound well in the first half, but we did a better job of it in the second.”
Another thing that worked well for the Cowboys is the team’s depth. By the fourth quarter, Chaney (4-1) had worn down the opposition and continued to up the pressure more and more. By the end of the game, Howland’s players were swarmed from the moment they had the ball.
Chaney’s D’Juan Waller led the team with 17 points, going 6-of-11 from the field. Josiah Gonzalez chipped in 13 points while also bringing down five rebounds. Both Clive Wilson and Davinci McDowell also brought down five boards.
The Cowboys’ last three games leading up to the tilt with Howland have been decided by a total of five points. Both Boardman (a 50-49 loss) and Harding (a 71-70 win) were decided by a single point.
Those close games are exactly what McGaughy wants his team to fight through as the schedule only gets tougher from here. The Cowboys have matchups against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and Mentor on the schedule this year, which are perfect for tournament prep as well.
“It’s been up and down,” McGaughy said about Chaney’s season so far. “We’ve been in some tight games, and we’ve been in some blowouts. I think I’d rather be in tight games because it gets us prepared for the tournament. We’ve been able to win in some close games and we’ve lost to Boardman.”
Chaney has a rematch with Boardman up next, with the teams squaring off this afternoon at 1:45 p.m. at Chaney High School.