The Cuyahoga Falls girls basketball team has improved as the season has gone along and is showing signs of becoming a top-tier team in the Suburban League National Conference.
But before the Black Tigers can truly contend for the conference championship, they must be able to conquer teams like Nordonia. The Knights look to be headed for a 20-win season.
Cuyahoga Falls lost by only five points — 52-47 — at home to Nordonia Jan. 4. The teams’ second meeting of the season was Feb. 5 at Nordonia.
The Black Tigers stayed right with the Knights in the first half. They trailed 9-8 after one quarter and tied the score 17-17 at halftime. But the home team outscored the visitors 16-5 in the third quarter to go up 33-22 entering the fourth quarter. Nordonia kept pouring it on in the final stanza en route to a 44-27 triumph.
Cuyahoga Falls fell to 13-7 overall and 8-5 in the conference.
"We needed to do a better job rebounding on the defensive end because really good teams like Nordonia crash the glass hard and create a lot of additional chances for themselves offensively," Black Tigers head coach Joe Nowak said. "They were able to get a number of extra possessions and very much took advantage of them."
Senior guard/forward Chelsea Huffman led the way for Cuyahoga Falls with 17 points and two assists.
Senior forward Olivia Lemmon scored four points and had five rebounds and two assists. With three points apiece were senior guard/forward Raygan Corrigall and freshman forward Mackenzie Kramer.
Junior forward Emma Brustoski contributed six rebounds and four steals.
"This season, we’ve shown the ability to play with everybody on our schedule," said Nowak. "To keep moving forward and take an even bigger step as a program, we have to keep working to find ways to limit the times where we beat ourselves."
Cuyahoga Falls is scheduled to play at American Conference crossover rival Tallmadge Feb. 8 at 2:30 p.m.
The Black Tigers are scheduled to host National Conference foe Stow-Munroe Falls Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. in the regular-season finale.
Cuyahoga Falls is set to begin its postseason journey Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. when the fifth-seeded Black Tigers host 12th-seeded Youngstown Boardman in a Division I sectional semifinal as part of the Ravenna district.
If the Black Tigers defeat the Spartans, they will oppose the winner of fourth-seeded Canfield and 13th-seeded Kent Roosevelt in a sectional final on the home court of the team with the higher seed Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.
"We’re in a district filled with talented teams from top to bottom," Nowak said. "Boardman is a team that has battled injuries all year but is as healthy as it’s been all year, and they have a number of players who can hurt you in a number of ways. I know, though, that we’ll prepare well and be ready to go. It’s an exciting time of year."