Falls girls basketball stumbles down the stretch

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Cuyahoga Falls girls basketball team Monday at home against Mayfield.

The Black Tigers squandered an 18-6 lead after one quarter, a 25-15 halftime advantage and a 30-19 lead after three quarters. They were outscored 19-7 by the Wildcats in the fourth quarter and lost 38-37 in the teams’ first meeting since 2014.

The defeat was Cuyahoga Falls’ fifth straight as the Black Tigers slipped to 9-7 on the season.

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Mayfield junior Hannah Peterson hit two free throws with no time remaining. She had been 0-for-4 from the free throw line prior to her game-winning shots. The Wildcats trailed the entire game until Peterson’s free throws.

“The loss really stung because I very much liked how we responded with our effort and focus following the Stow-Munroe Falls game [a 79-25 home loss Feb. 6],” Cuyahoga Falls head coach Joe Nowak said. “We just hurt ourselves way too much in the fourth quarter, especially with turnovers, a couple rushed possessions offensively and missed free throws [1-of-7 and 4-of-14 overall]. Like any close game, missed opportunities – no matter when they happen – can make all the difference.”

Pacing the Black Tigers was sophomore forward Mackenzie Kramer, who scored 10 points. Junior guard Laila Smith scored 8 points, while senior forward Emma Brustoski had six points, nine rebounds, three assists and six steals.

Senior forward Taylor Cain scored five points. With four points apiece were junior guard Jenna Roberts and sophomore forward Ellie Brustoski, Emma’s sister.

In the loss to Stow-Munroe Falls, a Suburban League National Conference rival, Cuyahoga Falls trailed 20-6 after the first quarter, 40-14 at the half and 60-21 after the third quarter.

“Stow took control right from the start,” said Nowak, whose team fell to 5-3 in the conference. “Because of their depth and physicality, they’ll be a tough matchup for so many teams in the postseason.”

Smith led the way for Cuyahoga Falls with 11 points. Freshman guard Trista Lee scored five points, while Emma Brustoski had four points and seven rebounds.

Roberts scored three points and Ellie Brustoski had two points.

Cuyahoga Falls is scheduled to play at Chardon Thursday.

The Black Tigers, seeded 19th, received a first-round bye and are set to play the winner of 21st-seeded Solon and ninth-seeded Lyndhurst Brush in a Division I Northeast 2 sectional final Feb. Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. The game will be at home if Solon wins and on the road if Brush is victorious.

They are scheduled to conclude the regular season at conference rival Hudson Feb. 19