Falls girls basketball rolls past Field after rout in opener

Roger Gordon
Correspondent

It was the ultimate bounce-back game for the Cuyahoga Falls girls basketball team.

After getting blown out 71-14 Nov. 21 in their season opener at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, the Black Tigers came out roaring three nights later on Nov. 24 in a 58-37 victory at Field.

Cuyahoga Falls led 21-10 after one quarter, 31-16 at halftime and 45-34 after three quarters.

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“The win over Field was a lot more of the team that I recognize than the loss to St. Vincent-St. Mary,” Cuyahoga Falls head coach Joe Nowak said. “I think we came out and played a lot more relaxed and a lot more confidently.

“We did a much better job of having an aggressive, attacking mindset on both ends of the floor. The effort was a lot more indicative of what we’re capable of doing. I think there’s every reason in the world why we should go out and compete every single time we play somebody.”

Leading the way for the Black Tigers was sophomore forward Mackenzie Kramer, who scored a career-high 25 points.

“From the git-go, Mackenzie really did a good job of not only knocking down shots but making good decisions offensively. She put others in position to do well,” said Nowak. “At the same time, I think she really settled in and took advantage of opportunities that were presented to her. She had a lot more of an aggressive mindset than she had in the first game, and that helped her out on both ends of the floor.”

Junior guard Laila Smith scored eight points and guard Jenna Roberts, her classmate, had seven points.

“Laila is someone with an aggressive mindset offensively,” Nowak said. “She’s someone we rely on to continue to shoot the ball, and she shoots the ball effectively. She creates opportunities for herself. Every game she plays moving forward, she’s going to become a lot more comfortable with the ball in and out of her hands.

“I think Jenna did an excellent job of attacking with the ball in her hands. It’s something that she’s being asked to do a lot this season. She did a really nice job of getting to the basket but also finding teammates to give them opportunities as well.

“The more she plays, the more comfortable she is in terms of seeing the floor and being able to put herself in a position to do well but also making others do well at the same time, and that’s really important for us.”

Senior forward Taylor Cain scored a career-high six points, freshman guard Trista Lee and sophomore forward Ellie Brustoski each had five points and junior guard Alonna Little had two points.

In the loss to St. Vincent-St. Mary, Cuyahoga Falls trailed 20-0 after the first quarter, 35-3 at the half and 59-10 after the third quarter.

“I think we struggled a little bit with St. V’s pressure in different spots whether it was extended or in the half court,” said Nowak. “They did a good job of forcing us to rush shots and turn the ball over at times.

“We got some good looks that just didn’t fall early on, and I think St. V. was able to capitalize on that momentum, especially in the early going. At the same time, there were a lot of times where we beat ourselves, and good teams will take advantage of that.”

Kramer scored six points, Smith had five points and senior forward Emma Brustoski, Ellie’s sister, had three points.

“I think we’re getting to a point where we understand what we need to do well in order to compete,” the coach said. “Our [Suburban League National] conference is one of the more challenging in the state, and we have to continue to realize the little things on both ends of the floor are going to be very important for us.

“And I think just playing with confidence, too, believing in each other, is important, too. Hopefully, a bounce-back win like the one we had against Field can give the kids confidence that they can play well and rebound from a tough setback.”

COVID-19 is disrupting Cuyahoga Falls’ schedule in the early going.

For now, the Black Tigers’ next game is scheduled to be at home against North Royalton in their conference opener Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.