Howland edges Ursuline | News, Sports, Jobs

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Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes
Howland’s Alyssa Massucci fires off a 3-pointer during the third quarter at Ursuline. She scored 21 points in Howland’s win.

YOUNGSTOWN — Howland’s contest at Ursuline was everything it was billed to be, a mid-December showdown between two of the area’s better teams and seniors.

Lily Scott and Alyssa Massucci went toe-to-toe and notched big time numbers for their respective teams, but when the dust settled, the Tigers walked away with a 52-50 win in a hard-nosed game with plenty of fouls.

With 5:06 left on the clock, Howland (4-1) trailed 48-40, but a slew of key buckets along with clutch defense helped the Tigers overcome and achieve.

Massucci tallied 21 in her team’s winning effort while Scott scored 28 off of four three-pointers for the host Irish.

“Lily Scott is a stud. You can tell her dad is a coach. All of the credit to her, she’s fun to watch. Her and Massucci put on a show tonight,” Howland coach Aaron Pounds said. “There wasn’t a real change in the game plan. We decided to pick it up full court man to man, a lot of coaches will tell you this court is bigger than other courts so we were a little hesitant to do that.

“Down by eight with a little over three minutes to go, what do you have to lose? The girls responded, the result is what it is. Alyssa can miss five shots in a row, (but) the moment she gets the ball the next time, she’s firing. Her confidence is never shaken.”

Massucci scored the first five points of the contest to help pace Howland to a 19-14 lead at the end of the first period, and she kept making just enough buckets to keep their distance from Ursuline.

Midway through the third, that changed. What began with a score off the hands of freshman Kennedy Carpenter, led to a quick bucket then a three by Scott to give her team their first lead of the matchup. Sophomore Brooklyn Brown kept the pressure on, converting an and-1 under the net on a pass from Scott to take a 39-33 edge.

A three-pointer in front of the Tigers’ bench by Massucci and a made free throw knotted the duel up at 40 heading into the fourth.

Ursuline (3-4) quickly put together a 6-0 run via makes from Scott and Carpenter as the Fighting Irish really began to find more success in the paint.

Over the final five minutes however, Howland limited Ursuline to only a pair of free throws. Massucci began knocking down shots at the charity line herself, then found fellow senior Gia Hoso open toward the top of the arc, nailing a trey to cut the lead down to 48-46.

Scott’s final two free throws made it a 50-47 ballgame, but senior Jessie DeSalvo made a quick shot under the basket to cut it down to 50-49. Following a turnover, Howland had its opportunity down one with 47.7 seconds left and possession.

Senior Mia Barrish took a pass and powered to the basket to score over some tough defense Ursuline tossed in the paint, allowing Howland to regain their lead on the scoreboard, holding their foe off for the last 40-plus seconds.

“I was open, and I knew I had to take it. It really helped us win the game. I knew we just had to play good defense, not give up any layups or three, and if we’re going to foul, don’t let them get an and-1,” Barrish said. “It gives us a lot of confidence, and I think it really shows us what we can do and to never give up because we can always come back.”

Pounds added, “We knew that they were focusing on Alyssa, so somebody else had to step up in the clutch and (Barrish) is another senior. We don’t give her the ball enough. Barrish got the ball, she took it strong to the hole, she’s a great player too. It’s important we continue to use each other as teammates and play as a team, that’s the most important.”

Thirteen of Massucci’s team-high 21 points came in the second half.

“I feel like we kept going at it, staying positive with one-another and just being more aggressive and attacking the ball, just playing good defense,” Massucci said. “We definitely had to help over on defense and make sure that we were following through on the other side, I think that overall we did a great job on defense and I really think that won us the game.”

Howland now has their first 4-1 start since the 2019-2020 campaign.

“We definitely felt the confidence when we saw the ball go through the hoop at the end there,” Massucci said. “This feels really good. We just have to keep getting better at practice and we can always improve on everything. We can keep getting better, but I’m so proud of the team.”

Complementing Massucci’s performance was Barrish with 10, and Horo added seven points. Carpenter tacked on 11 for Ursuline, sophomore Carly Casey posted six points by way of two three-pointers.

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