Howdeshell plays through illness, scores 19 in Lady Z comeback win over Plymouth
Delp notches double-double, but Lady Pilgrims held to 2 points in 4th quarter
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
PLYMOUTH — Michael Jordan had the “flu game” in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals.
A quarter-century later, Emma Howdeshell had the “strep throat game” for the
Rochester girls basketball team, and it led to host Plymouth coughing up a chance at a win Wednesday.
It might not have been as momentous, but Howdeshell came off the bench to score 19 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, to lead the Lady Zs to a 37-33 win. Rylee Clevenger added nine points, Sydney Haughs had seven, and Ella McCarter had two.
Rochester committed only one turnover and no fouls while allowing only two points in the fourth quarter.
Taylor Delp led Plymouth with 13 points and 12 rebounds. She had Plymouth’s only two points of the fourth quarter with 6.6 seconds left on a putback, which curtailed a 10-0 Rochester run and broke an 8:17 scoreless drought.
Lena Jones then fouled Howdeshell with 5.6 seconds left. She missed the first free throw but made the second, essentially icing the game at 37-33.
Rochester improved to 8-9. Plymouth dropped to 4-11. Neither team led by more than five points.
“She’s still fighting sickness, so we brought her in off the bench,” Rochester coach Joel Burrus said. “She scores 19, and I felt like I got her the breaks that I needed to. I really wanted to be able to play her and her play the way she plays but also get her some breaks to where she could get some fluids in her because you know Emma, she plays 110 miles an hour and you start to see her gasp for air, and I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got to get her out.’”
Howdeshell did not start because she missed practice on Tuesday due to strep throat, but she was in the middle of everything in the fourth quarter Wednesday.
After missing two free throws – including an air ball with 7:17 left – she immediately atoned with a steal and coast-to-coast layup to cut the Plymouth lead to 31-28.
“Well, I heard Sydney’s mom yelling ‘legs,’” a smiling Howdeshell later said when recalling the air-balled free throw. “So that’s what I was thinking. I was tired by that point, but we pushed through just like we do in practice.”
Then Ella McCarter penetrated to the left short corner and found Sydney Haughs with a bounce pass in the paint, who dribbled in for a layup to make it 31-30 with 5:20 left and necessitate a Plymouth timeout.
Plymouth missed twice on their next possession, which ended with Delp missing over a Haughs-Howdeshell double-team in the post and McCarter running down the rebound.
Then Rochester played ball control for the next two possessions. They took 1:24 off the clock with Watson and Howdeshell playing keepaway before Delp fouled Howdeshell on a drive to the hoop.
Howdeshell hit two free throws to give Rochester a 32-31 lead with 3:05 left.
After a Plymouth turnover, Howdeshell and Clevenger worked what coach Joel Burrus called their “twist” offense, playing off one another just as Howdeshell and Watson did the previous possession.
They took another 1:16 off the clock before Haughs found McCarter with a diagonal bounce pass in the lane for a layup. The lead was 34-31.
Halle Hopple then missed a 3-pointer from the right wing after a Plymouth timeout, and Howdeshell hit two free throws with 37.8 seconds left to cap the run and give the Lady Zs their biggest lead.
Howdeshell’s previous season high in points was 16 in a 35-23 win over Culver on Nov. 30.
“I seem to play better when I’m sick,” Howdeshell said. “The Culver game, I was sick too.”
The first three quarters featured 13 lead changes. With leading scorer Rily Holloway (9.3 ppg) facing a constant face-guard and being held scoreless, Clevenger made up for her absence by hitting three treys, and Haughs both scored and served as playmaker from the middle of the floor.
“Tonight it was one of those deals,” Burrus said of Holloway, who played all 32 minutes. “I kept on her. I said, ‘Keep your defense up and the other four people have got to step up.’ You’re kind of trick bait in that situation, right? Because the help, if you’re driving, when we were in our twist triangle off that side, and she was in the corner over there, there’s no help because they’re face-guarding you. So we went over that at halftime: If you drove off to her side and you get by your defender’s hip, Holloway is the bait in that situation. And I know that’s tough, but I was really proud of her that she stuck with it defensively.”
And after allowing 20 3-pointers combined in losses to Crown Point and Westfield at the Twin Lakes Holiday Invitational, they held Plymouth to two 3-pointers, none in the final 15 minutes.
“Against Crown Point and Westfield, we were exposed a little bit on the perimeter,” Burrus said. “We really worked on closing out to the 3-point line these past few days. I thought that showed tonight. We put a lot into trying to stop Delp. … She had 13, but Syd scratched and clawed. … I felt like our fouls on her were good fouls too. We really emphasized these past few days, we’ve got to get back to playing our brand of defense. Tonight, we held them to 33 at home. … I couldn’t have scripted that much better.”
Said Howdeshell: “Coach said in the locker room it was good we played those two teams before we played this team. They’re a good team, and last week those were good teams, and it prepared us for today.”
Rochester 37, Plymouth 33
ROCHESTER (37) (8-9)
Rily Holloway 0 0-0 0, Rylee Clevenger 3 0-1 9, Kallie Watson 0 0-0 0, Ella McCarter 1 0-0 2, Sydney Haughs 3 1-2 7, Emma Howdeshell 5 9-12 19
TEAM: 12 10-15 37
PLYMOUTH (33) (4-11)
Lena Jones 3 1-1 9, Sophie Miller 1 1-2 3, Alana Allen 1 0-0 2, Rylee Mann 2 2-4 6, Taylor Delp 5 3-6 13, Mady Sullivan 0 0-0 0, Claire McDonald 0 0-0 0, Halle Hopple 0 0-0 0, Ellie Jones 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 12 7-13 33
Three-point field goals:
Rochester 3 (Clevenger 3),
Plymouth 2 (L. Jones 2)
Total fouls: Rochester 10, Plymouth 12
Turnovers: Rochester 16, Plymouth 18
Score by quarters
Rochester 6 10 10 11 – 37
Plymouth 8 8 15 2 – 33