Howard played around with a few different defensive looks in the opening minutes of its game against Fallston on Thursday before settling into a three-quarter-court zone press that the team has used as its calling card in the early stages this winter.
For Fallston, that turned out to be the beginning of the end.
The Cougars, which started out hot from the field on the way to an early lead, spent the rest of the opening-round game in the Manchester Valley Holiday Hoops tournament searching for answers, as the Lions used a 19-0 run in the second quarter to break things open en route to an 80-37 victory.
Cooper Haberern scored a game-high 25 points and Darrion Harris added 15, both in less than three quarters of action, to lead a group of 12 different Howard (4-2) players that scored at least one basket.
“We wanted to avoid foul trouble early on so we sat back a little but once we went to our true 1-3-1 zone press that immediately gave them some problems,” Howard coach Seth Willingham said. “We moved the ball really well, really shared the ball, and you can see that we shoot better when we do that. Those easy baskets in transition that we were able to get really opened up everything else.”
Howard's Cooper Haberern talks about the Lions' 80-37 victory over Fallston during the opening day of the Manchester Valley Holiday Hoops tournament Thursday.
Fallston, which was led by Alex Flasch’s 12 points on the day, was ahead 14-13 just past the midway point of the first quarter when Howard switched things up. The move to pressure defense paid immediate dividends, with Justin Hendricks intercepting three passes in a two-minute span to spark easy layups on the other end.
By the end of that opening quarter, the Lions had established a 24-18 lead.
The momentum carried right over into the second quarter, with Howard opening the period with 19 unanswered points to go ahead by 25.
“I think when we get the fast-break going, get out running and are throwing the passes ahead to get the quick layups — that’s what helps us win,” said Haberern, who had 10 points during the decisive run.
The Howard lead was 25 points, 51-26, at the half and ballooned to 71-31 by the end of the third quarter to create a running clock the rest of the way.
No starter for the Lions played in the fourth quarter, allowing the team’s supporting cast to get valuable minutes. Even without starting point guard Kyle Colbert (high ankle sprain), Howard was able to showcase something Willingham thinks is one of his team’s greatest assets moving forward.
“Coming into the season, we saw right away that this is the deepest team we’ve had since I’ve been here. It was just going to be getting them all to buy into certain roles and, so far, we’ve gotten that,” Willingham said. “It’s encouraging to see that even without our point guard on the floor, other guys are stepping up.”
Howard advances to face Hammond, a winner over host Manchester Valley in the other semifinal contest, on Friday at 5 p.m. in the Holiday Hoops championship game.
Howard 80, Fallston 37
Ho (4-2): C. Haberern 25, Harris 15, Rodgers 8, Ellis 8, Henderson 4, Hendricks 4, Asifo 4, Maokhamphio 3, Kuehl 3, G. Haberern 2, Simmons 2, Bruner 2.
In a game featuring crazy momentum swings throughout, the Golden Bears made the plays down the stretch to emerge victorious. David Aodu scored a team-high 15 points, including what ended up being a clinching 3-pointer in the final minute, to lead the way for Hammond.
Reilly Moore (14 points) and Nick Thomas (12) also scored in double figures in the winning effort.
Hammond coach Mike Salapata said the game, which saw the Golden Bears lead by as many as 13 points in the first half and trail by as many as nine in the second half, was a pretty accurate snapshot of the ebbs and flows for his young squad this winter.
“We are learning as we play and that means there are going to be some great stretches and then there are going to be some stretches where we look like we don’t know what we are doing,” Salapata said. “But the kids play hard and they want to learn, so as a coach that’s all you can ask. We had a sophomore and a freshman on the floor at the end today to go with our seniors … and they made plays.”
Hammond (4-3) was up 20-7 in the first minute of the second quarter before Manchester Valley rallied to within 31-28 at the half.
Then the Mavericks took their first lead of the game with 6:30 left in the third quarter following a 3-pointer from senior Brett Dewees (17 points). Another three from Dewees with 3:12 left in the quarter put Manchester Valley up by nine, 44-35.
But Hammond regrouped to put together a 12-0 run and the game headed to the fourth quarter tied at 46. Then, after a back-and-forth few minutes, the Golden Bears made the game-winning push.
“We stopped settling for jumpers and started to realize that the drives were there,” Salapata said. “In that fourth quarter, much like the first quarter, we either got layups at the rim or had wide-open kick outs for three.”
Austin Avent (19 points) and Cole Tran (18) combined to lead the way for the Mustangs in the opening round of the Liberty Holiday Tournament. Avent hit five 3-pointers and Marriotts Ridge hit eight shots from beyond the arc as a team.
The Hawks were down double digits early, 17-7 at the end of the first quarter, but rallied to win their opening game at the Paint Branch Holiday Tournament. Victor McKoy scored a team-high 12 points for River Hill.
River Hill will play in the finals of their bracket at 5 p.m. on Friday.
N: Williams 14, Tate 14, Howard 8, Acosta 3, Jackson 3, Burton 2, Edwards 2, Harrington 2, Hyppolite 1.
Half: 28-22 N.
Atholton 84, Cardoza 52
Jordan Oates posted another double-double (24 points and 15 rebounds) to lead the way, as the Raiders advanced to the championship of their bracket at the Paint Branch Tournament. Atholton, which also got 16 points from Raymond Brown and 9 apiece from Deven Daniel and Ayyub Rabb, will play host Paint Branch in the championship game of the Gold Bracket on Friday at 7 p.m.
A (4-2): Oates 24, Brown 16, Daniel 11, Rabb 9, Anderson 8, Nwakalor 7, Swartz 4, Miller 4, Jennings 2, Briken 1.
C: Brown 18, Nelson 15, Belton 9, Abraham 6, Harris 2, Ortiz 2.
Half: 42-26 A.
Centennial 71, Magruder 66
Shane Taylor scored a career-high 24 points, while Joey Sedlacko (16 points) and Jeong Hwang (10) joined him in double figures, to lead the Eagles to the win to open the Meade Holiday Tournament. Centennial was up by 15 points at the half and at end of the third quarter before holding on to win late.
C (4-2): Taylor 24, Sedlacko 16, Hwang 10, Baker 9, Bonner 8, Shickner 2, Lee 2.
Half: 36-21 C.
Glenelg 53, High Point 45
Max Pearcy scored 12 points to lead a balanced scoring effort for the Gladiators, which saw eight players score three or more points during the opening day of the Meade Holiday Tournament.
G (3-2): Pearcy 12, Curtis 8, Dalton 7, Owens 6, Della Russo 6, Walsh 5, Perfator 4, Tolbert 3.
Half: 26-17 G.
Reservoir 73, B-CC 65
The Gators got huge efforts from Bobby Hill (24 points), Jaylen Manning (17) and Rashod Ballard (16) to defeat the Barons in the opening round of the Springbrook Memorial Holiday Classic. Reservoir advances to play host Springbrook, which is undefeated on the season, in the championship game on Friday at 7 p.m.
Re (4-1): Hill 24, Manning 17, Ballard 16, Glasper 8, Ameli 6, Jerry 2.
Half: 36-28 Re.
South River 66, Long Reach 63
The Seahawks got 31 points from Eric Sondberg to help overcome a 16-point halftime deficit against the Lightning in the opening round of the JT Bogle Tournament at Glen Burnie. Kojo Addo led Long Reach with 23 points, while Darelle Raymond chipped in with 17.