Falls girls basketball hits slump as season enters home stretch

Roger Gordon
Cuyahoga Falls' Ellie Brustoski, left, takes the ball down the court against a host of Twinsburg defenders during a game earlier this season.

After a 9-2 start, the Cuyahoga Falls girls basketball team has slipped to 9-5 overall

The Black Tigers’ latest two losses came 62-49 at home to Chardon Feb. 2 and 51-28 at Suburban League National Conference rival Nordonia Feb. 3. They dropped to 5-2 in the conference.

In the loss to Chardon, which was the two teams’ first meeting since 2008, Cuyahoga Falls let a 15-9 lead after one quarter slip away. The Hilltoppers’ 12-0 run in the final three minutes of the second quarter gave them a 29-27 lead, a lead they would never relinquish.

The visitors extended their lead to 44-32 after three quarters and, other than the Black Tigers cutting their deficit to six, they coasted the rest of the way.

“We shot the ball really well through the midway point of the second quarter and then had some good looks that just didn’t go in,” Cuyahoga Falls head coach Joe Nowak said. “Defensively, though, we also had a couple of breakdowns late in the first half, and good teams like Chardon will take advantage of them more often than not.”

Leading the way for Cuyahoga Falls was sophomore forward Mackenzie Kramer, who scored 15 points and had six rebounds.

Ellie Brustoski, another sophomore forward, scored nine points, junior guard Laila Smith had seven points and senior forward Taylor Cain notched six points.

Senior forward Emma Brustoski, Ellie’s sister, scored just two points but had eight rebounds, five assists and six steals.

Before the game, the Black Tigers held their annual Senior Night ceremony, celebrating the four-year careers of Cain, Emma Brustoski and guard Audriana Bando.

“Our seniors are a special group, and we’re going to miss them,” said Nowak. “In addition to the basketball skills they have, they’ve brought a sense of energy and enthusiasm throughout their careers. It’s always tough to see your seniors leave, but I know their talent, hard work and dedication will help them be successful wherever life takes them.”

In the loss to Nordonia, Cuyahoga Falls trailed 15-6 after the first quarter, 26-15 at the half and 37-20 after the third quarter.

“I thought our effort, especially defensively, was consistent throughout the game,” Nowak said, “and we’re going to that type of consistency, especially as the postseason approaches.

“I also liked our shot selection and aggressiveness in transition, but there’s a reason why Nordonia is one of the top-seeded teams in the district. They’ll capitalize on additional opportunities you give them, and they did just that against us as we turned the ball over a few times more than we usually do.”

Pacing Cuyahoga Falls was Kramer with 14 points and two steals. Cain scored six points, while Emma Brustoski had four points, 11 rebounds and two steals.

Cuyahoga Falls is scheduled to host both conference rival Stow-Munroe Falls Saturday and Mayfield Monday before traveling to Chardon for a rematch Thursday.

The Black Tigers, seeded 19th, received a first-round bye in the postseason and are set to play the winner of 21st-seeded Solon and ninth-seeded Lyndhurst Brush in a Northeast 2 sectional final Feb. 18th at 7 p.m.