By Noah Ricks
YOUNGSTOWN, OH – The Howland Tigers and Ursuline Fighting Irish boys’ basketball teams put on a thrilling finish to the regular season in a game that would take an extra period to complete. The Irish did the right things at the right time as they would defeat the Tigers in overtime 62-53.
Howland gave the red hot Fighting Irish all they could ask for in a non-conference classic. They would take control of the game in the first half thanks in part to senior Alex Henry, who would pick up 9 first-quarter points, en route to a 21-point performance. The Tigers were able to take a 23-21 advantage heading into the locker room as senior John Perry tagged along his teammate Henry with 13 tallies.
Despite first half struggles, Ursuline would make huge adjustments in the second half, which revolved mainly around coach Keith Gunther’s son Jaylen. The true freshman Gunther exploded for 21 points in the second half and overtime, ending the contest leading all scorers with 23. He would also connect on back-to-back threes to give his team a 46-43 advantage in the fourth.
Henry would come up clutch, however, for Howland, as he would drain a tray near the end of regulation to tie up the scoring at 48-48. With a chance to win the game, the Tiger heroics came up just short as the Irish defense blocked Steven Bubon’s layup at the buzzer to keep the tie, sending Howland into their third overtime game of the season. Ursuline used the momentum to fire away with a 14-5 overtime period. Overall, between the fourth quarter and overtime, the Irish outscored the Tigers 27-17.
Ursuline ends their regular season with an 18-3 mark as they start their tournament run in the Sectional Semifinal against Cleveland Collinwood. Howland, with the hard-fought overtime defeat, will finish the regular season 11-11 with a home Sectional Semifinal game coming up against Painesville Harvey. Both games will tip-off at 7:00 P.M. this upcoming Tuesday.
You can watch interviews with Ursuline head coach Keith Gunther and Howland head coach Dan Bubon below.