The Howard Hustlin' Tigers beat the Tyner Rams for the second time this season on Saturday afternoon at Howard's Henry Bowles Gymnasium, but it was a whole lot closer the second time than it was the first.
Howard handed the Rams a 64-47 thumping on Dec. 7, but the difference was only four as the hosts took charge late for a 50-46 victory in a key District 6-AA battle.
"I'm not really pleased, but I'd much rather have a 'W' than an 'L,' said Howard coach Walter "Moose" McGary after his team had improved to 11-3 overall and 6-1 in 6-AA.
"I know that we can play so much better than that, but my kids are so envious of each other. Defense was the key for us, but if we can ever get our offense cranked up, we'll be fine.
"Tyner is a well-coached team and they never gave up. They really pushed us at the end, but we were able to withstand their pressure. It's always a battle when these two teams play," McGary added.
The game started out as a shootout as both teams were hot from outside.
Howard's Shalique Cameron and Tyner's Jemichah Bowman both hit three 3s in the opening quarter with Cameron's third giving the Hustlin' Tigers a 16-14 edge at the break.
The difference was 24-21 at intermission.
With big Brandon Walters scoring twice on nice inside moves to start the third quarter, Howard extended its lead to 30-23 in the first three minutes, but a 3 from the wing by Sadik Spence with 2:13 showing knotted the score at 30-30.
Xavier Harris had back-to-back buckets late at Howard regained the lead at 36-31 with one quarter remaining, but Tyner refused to back down.
Bowman nailed another 3 with 2:47 to play to tie the game at 42, but Cudjoe Young sank a short jumper from the baseline and Cameron added two free throws for a 46-42 Howard lead with 1:16 remaining.
Spence scored on a drive along the baseline with 19.4 seconds to play as Tyner got within two at 46-44, but Howard was able to convert four of six shots at the free throw line in the last 18 seconds to seal the win.
"I think the biggest difference was Howard hit their free throws at the end and we didn't," said Tyner coach Gerald Harris after being told that his team converted just 50 percent from the stripe.
"I was proud of my guys because they competed today, but we have to learn how to make smarter decisions at the end. We didn't contest their shots at the start and they got some really good looks, but they scored most of their points in the second half on penetration moves.
"Howard did a good job of doing what they do well, but we had a hard time containing them. But in a four-point game, it came down to free throws. We didn't shoot them well while they made them when it counted," Harris added.
Cameron finished with 18 points to lead Howard while Brandon Walters followed with 15 points and a dozen rebounds.
Bowman was tops for Tyner with 22 points while Spence was next with 18.
Alex Watkins didn't score a point, but he grabbed nine rebounds for Tyner as Howard won the battle of the boards, 26-17.
Tyner, now 8-5 overall and 3-3 in 6-AA, returns to action on Tuesday with a big district game at East Hamilton while Howard will be at home again on Tuesday to host Red Bank.
HOWARD GIRLS 39, TYNER 28: It was a relatively-close game after three quarters with Howard holding a 23-20 lead, but the fourth stanza was the difference as the Lady Hustllin' Tigers used a 16-8 advantage to pull away.
Howard, now 7-2 overall and 5-0 in 6-AA, got 10 points from Deronesha Smartt while Kanisha Davis and Nuquella Robinson followed with nine and eight points, respectively.
Juanita Montgomery was tops for Tyner with 12 points. Dekasha Parks was next with eight while Mia Smith added six.
Tyner 6 8 6 8 -- 28
Howard 10 7 6 16 -- 39
TYNER (28) -- Turner 1, Smith 6, McElvain, Parks 8, Hudgins, Montgomery 12, Garth 1.
HOWARD (39) -- Robinson 8, Smartt 10, King 4, Williams 2, Rollins 4, Davis 9, Smith 2.
3-POINT GOALS: Tyner 3 (Parks 2, Montgomery); Howard none.
Tyner 14 7 10 15 -- 46
Howard 16 8 12 14 -- 50
TYNER (46) -- Spence 18, Bowman 22, D. Rollins 2, Bridgeman 2, Watkins, Hardwick, Watson, Waller, L. Rollins 2.
HOWARD (50) -- Smith 5, Cameron 18, Harris 4, Walton 2, Walters 15, McCauley, Brummitt 1, Young 5.
3-POINT GOALS: Tyner 8 (Bowman 6, Spence 2); Howard 4 (Smith, Cameron 3).
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)