By TIM CLEVELAND
For the Star Beacon
While Geneva was much improved in the second game of its two-game swing through Trumbull County, the result was frustratingly the same for the Eagles.
Geneva led by as much as 10 points in the first half, but the Tigers chipped away to take the advantage before holding on for a 42-39 victory Tuesday night.
“I hate to say this, but in the fourth quarter, it just seemed like Howland wanted it more,” Geneva coach Nancy Barbo said. “They really picked it up and were aggressive on the offensive glass. They got some second chances from their overall effort, and we kind of did a little bit of watching that happen.”
The Eagles lost by 19 points Saturday at Lakeview.
Barbo said while Tuesday’s effort was better than against the Bulldogs, it still wasn’t good enough.
“Howland is a good team and they’re a very well-coached team,” she said. “I’m glad that we competed. I felt like we competed better overall this game than we did against Lakeview. That’s what I want to see from this group. We need to compete, however, for four straight quarters.”
Howland coach John Diehl felt the Tigers’ pressure defense was key to the win.
“I think we wore them down a little bit with our pressure,” he said. “I think they got a little tired, their shots started being a little bit off. We were still playing pretty good defense in the post area against Mayle. She’s quicker than she looks. We were keying on her, no doubt.”
Trailing with one last chance, Lindsey Mayle had a good look at a tying 3-pointer, but she wasn’t able to put it down.
“My coach told me to cut to the baseline, that they were going to pass it to me and to try and get a 3 off,” she said of the final play. “I stepped back, tried to put my arm into it, finish it, and make the 3, but unfortunately, it didn’t go in. I tried.”
Barbo said her team didn’t execute the final play as she had drawn it up, although Mayle was the best player to take the shot.
“We were trying to put on our free-throw break that we have, but we didn’t execute it very well,” Barbo said. “It has to be something that is run very quickly, and we kind of jogged to the spot instead of getting to where we needed to be.
“It’s kind of a hard look, a hard step back. (Mayle’s) capable of making that. That’s who we would want to shoot it, but it would’ve been nice to have it be a little more of an open look.”
Diehl said his team definitely did not want Mayle taking the final shot.
“At least she was back about five feet (behind the 3-point line),” he said. “We were definitely not supposed to let her shoot the 3. She’s good; she got open. They ran a little play for her and she put it up and you hold your breath.”
Mayle led Geneva (0-2) with a game-high 17 points and has scored 36 in two games this season. Just a sophomore, she said she’s embracing the role of top scorer for the Eagles.
“I feel it’s my job to lead the team,” she said. “I feel like a leader on this team and I need to do my best to keep my team in it and try to stay competitive.”
Mayle scored eight in the first quarter to help her team take a 16-6 advantage. She had all six of Geneva’s points in the second quarter but only had three points in the second half.
Gabby Cvengros (10 points) scored the opening basket of the fourth quarter that gave Howland (1-1) a 30-29 lead it would never relinquish. Jordan Entler then made a 3-pointer for a four-point advantage.
Annaliesa Fistek (11 rebounds) scored to pull Geneva to within 36-34 with 3 minutes to play. However, Sara Price (a team-high 14 points) scored, then had an offensive rebound and put back to give Howland a 40-37 lead.
“That putback, she didn’t even have a very good angle at the basket,” Diehl said. “For a freshman, she’s just learning to play at this speed. That’s big-time for a freshman.”
Entler followed with a steal and a layup to give the Tigers a five-point advantage.
“Jordan struggled earlier in the game,” Diehl said. “She missed two or three 3’s. That gave us a little spread in the lead. That was a good shot by Jordan.”
Geneva fought back to give itself a final chance. Courtney Harriman made a free throw, then Cvengros was fouled.
She missed both free throws, with Geneva calling a timeout with 10.3 seconds to play to set up Mayle’s final shot.
Cleveland is a freelance writer from Warren.