Sunday, December 7, 2008

GIRLS HOOPS: Howell vs. Saginaw High

**Nikki Gunning takes on a double team**
**Diamond Tolliver gets to the basket**
**Charlie French pulls up for for 2**
**Keyandra Rohelia chases down a loss ball**

Saginaw- The Trojans and Highlanders matched bucket for bucket for the vast majority of four quarters, but down the stretch it was Howell's ability to knock down free throws that allowed the Highlanders to take a 58-51 win in the season opener for both teams.

Howell went up 6-0, the biggest lead for either team, to start the game before the Trojans woke up on their home floor. Saginaw's steal and solo bucket from Keyandra Rohelia tied the game 8-8, and Diamond Tolliver's basket gave the Trojans their first lead of the game.

The teams used the next two quarters duking it out as both tried to control the game's tempo. Saginaw wore down Howell with their full court man pressure while Howell slowed the game down and forced Saginaw to spent allot of energy chasing down back door cutters and shooters coming off of screens.

Saginaw stayed close late into the fourth quarter until Nikki Gunning bombed a long 3-point to give Howell a 49-44 lead, their biggest in the second half, with three minutes to play. Saginaw continued to attack the basket down the stretch, and was able to draw foul and get into the bonus, however Saginaw missed the front end of three 1-and-1's while Howell knocked down 5 of 6 in the final two minutes.

BREAKDOWN: both teams played hard, and the game could have gone either way, but in the end Howell made their free-throws when it counted. I think both teams will be in for successful seasons and both should win at least 14 games.

Howell's starting 5 are all players, they all see the floor well and they can handle the ball. They are also great passing the ball overall as a team. Saginaw on the other hand found success with their defensive full court pressure but they only used it in spurts, they should have used it from the opening tip. The Trojans have a deep bench and have the ability to run some teams right out of the gym.

PLAYER OF GAME: Charlie French, Howell, 5-11 wing- the volleyball stud, is just as talented with a basketball. She ran the floor well and made her presence felt on both ends. Defensively, she guarded Tolliver, Saginaw's 5-3 point guard. French forced Tolliver into tough shots as she had to shoot over French's long wing span. Offensively, French played all 5 positions and her ability to handle the ball was key in Howell's overall ability to handle Saginaw's pressure.


Nikki Gunning, Howell, 5-5 PG- was big in the fourth quarter with the long 3-pointer and taking care of business at the line. She finished with a a game high 20 points. Tough point guard that can really handle the basketball.

Megan Hatter, Howell, 5-11 Fwd-
Hatter is athletic and can do some damage with her back to the basket or driving from 10 feet out. She got her hands on allot of loose balls.

Diamond Tolliver, Saginaw, 5-3 PG- the junior guard is Saginaw's best player. She keeps the ball in her hands and you can tell she is trying to be a leader and a complete point guard, even though she is a natural scorer. She does a good job passing the ball in traffic even though her teammates at times weren't prepared for some of her passes. Tolliver finished with 7 points, 7 assist, and 4 steals.

Qwandra Stephens, Saginaw, 5-8 PF- the senior is a beast on the boards. She lacks height for a true center but she is relentless and fights for every rebound. Her offensive skills are developing however she still managed to log 17 points and 11 boards.

Ashley Beemon, Saginaw, 5-5 PG- the speedy sophomore point guard got plenty of clock off of the bench. She was nervous in the early going but settled down and played well. She has a good shot and has confidence shooting it. Beeman finished with 9 points and 5 steals.

Keyandra Rohelia, Saginaw, 5-7 fwd-
gave her team energy early and started the Trojan's engine after falling behind 0-6. But Rohelia picked up her third foul in the second quarter and faded away in the second half.

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