By Noah Ricks


NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH – Welcome to March!! The March Madness spirit was on full display in North Ridgeville as the Howland Tigers held off a furious fourth quarter rally by Rocky River. The defensive effort was just enough to pull off the 47-44 victory in the Division 2 district semifinal from North Ridgeville High School.


The Pirates of Rocky River would start the game strong by draining two triples and were leading 10-3 late in the first. The Tigers had a strong push, though, as two key buckets to end the quarter gave them a huge momentum boost into what would be a 31-16 stretch by Howland between the second and third periods. On offense, John Perry would capture good feeds at low post and finish hard at the glass. The post effort by Perry was good enough to capture 8 two-pointers and a 19-point performance to lead all scorers.


With the Tigers leading 38-26 heading into the fourth, Rocky River put on the magic, in which they would outscore Howland 18-9 in the final period. The Pirates run was led by senior Julian Patti, who would dial up 18 tallies to lead Rocky River before fouling out in the final ten seconds. The Tigers, however, were able to draw themselves to the line in the final thirty ticks, but various missed foul shots would keep it at a one-possession game, giving the Pirates another chance. Needing a three to tie, the shot would go off, but a key offensive rebound and a quick timeout gave them yet another crack at it. Fortunately, for Howland, a shot from the corner bounced out and a defensive board was snagged, sending them back to the foul stripe. Despite two more missed shots, a fight for the ball out of bounds resulted in Tiger possession, sealing the thrilling win.


Howland (14-11) is back in the district championship game for the second time in three years. They will seek their first district crown in school history as they will go up against the #1 seed Lutheran West Longhorns (22-2) on Saturday afternoon, with tip-off slated for 4:00 P.M. Rocky River, with the heartbreaking defeat, ends their season at 15-10.


YSN’s Noah Ricks got a chance to speak with Howland coach Dan Bubon following the exciting victory. The full interview can be watched below.