HOWLAND - It's the winter sports equivalent of the Market Street Rivalry between the Warren G. Harding Raiders and Howland Tigers in football season.
When the girls' basketball teams at the two schools meet for their annual game, the intensity is turned up a few notches and the crowds are a bit larger. The scene usually brings out the best in both teams, and it was no different Monday as the Tigers grabbed the lead early and went on to win, 58-47.
"I thought we should have saved this to the end of the year like last year," Tigers coach John Diehl said.
Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
Harding’s Tyra Reed, left, and Howland’s Erika Nites battle for the loose ball Monday in Howland.
The Tigers improved their record to 3-0. The Raiders, who opened the season with a loss to undefeated Lorain, are 0-2.
Raiders coach P.J. Notar was as much a fan as he was a coach in watching the talents of Raiders guard Anita Brown and Tigers center Taylor Williams. Brown put on a show in scoring a game-high 24 points. Williams got off to a slow start but finished with 16 points.
"You want people to come out and see the best two players in the (Trumbull) County, if not Mahoning (County)," Notar said. "Those that were here to watch, Brown put on a show. It was a great game, great crowd. That's all you could ask for."
Although the 6-foot-3 Williams hovers over the 5-9 Brown, she wanted the assignment of covering the quicker Brown. Diehl thought it would be better to keep Williams down low to pick Brown up on her drives to the basket.
"I love playing against girls like that," Williams said. "She has a reputation in the area because she's a good player. Not just the execution of her moves, but how she finishes. She's extremely impressive to anyone that knows anything about basketball."
Brown was able to grab rebounds and score from the inside. She caught the attention of Diehl.
"Brown can elevate," Diehl said. "Anytime you shoot over Taylor, and it goes in, that's a heck of an athlete."
Brown points to the Howland game every season. She returned the compliment to Williams.
"She's a very talented player," Brown said. "She finishes well with both hands. We know we have to bring our 'A' game when we play her."
Williams was held scoreless in the first quarter, but the Tigers opened a 9-6 lead. Williams scored 10 points in the second period as Howland stretched its lead to 29-22 at intermission.
The Raiders got as close as three points in the third period, but the Tigers regrouped to take a 40-30 lead entering the final period. Howland led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter and were never challenged down the stretch.
Erika Nites led the Tigers in scoring with 17 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. Olivia Nicholas had 10 points and played a solid all-around game.
"Olivia had a great second half," Diehl said. "She took it to the hole a couple of times and made some big baskets."
Brown was the only player to reach double figures for the Raiders. Brianna McCurdy and Tyra Reed both had seven points.
Harding is at Shaker Heights Saturday. Howland travels to Cardinal Mooney Wednesday, Dec. 13.