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With a young Cuyahoga Falls girls basketball team trying to find an identity, things have not been easy for first-year coach Joe Nowak.
On Dec. 12, the Black Tigers fell to 0-7 with a 42-41 loss to Normandy in Parma. The Invaders won their first game of the year.
"We are continuing to put ourselves into a position to win, especially our last three or four games," Nowak said. "We just have to learn to finish and play better in the second half. We need to be more consistent; we've had the lead at halftime, so we have to play better in the second half.
The obvious problem has been scoring, or lack thereof, as the offense continues to sputter.
The Black Tigers only managed to reach double digit scoring in one quarter, scoring 10 points in the second quarter.
Falls scored seven in the first quarter to trail 8-7, then with the 10-point second quarter and holding the Invaders to just three points took a 17-11 lead into halftime.
But the defense could not clamp down on the Invaders and Falls was outscored 31-14 in the second half and dropped to 0-2 in NOC Lake Division play.
The offense was led by senior Alyssa Mondl, who finished with 11 points. Senior Mary Messner had six points, Rosie Townsend and Jasmine Eaker each had four points, and both juniors Zoey Bosley and Savannah Selden added two points each.
On Dec. 10, the Black Tigers hosted Kent Roosevelt. It was a similar pattern for Falls, leading at halftime before falling to the Rough Riders 46-34.
The Black Tigers took a 9-8 lead by the end of the first quarter and outscored Kent 13-8 in the second quarter and head to the locker room up 22-16.
So what changed?
The Rough Riders played like their name, incorporating a press that forced turnovers and changed the entire feel of the game.
"We are going to going to see teams pressure and challenge us. We need to step up and close out games," Nowak said. "We continue to hurt ourselves with little mistakes.
"We see improvement and the girls are working hard at that. We just need to see that hard work pay off," Nowak said.
Messner led the Black Tigers with 11 points, Eaker had eight points, Hannah Johnson scored five, Townsend four, and Bosley, Catelyn Dobson and Emily Morgan had two each.
The Black Tigers were set to face Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division rival Garfield Heights Dec. 15, but results were not available at press time.
On Dec. 19, Falls hosts division rival Valley Forge before the Christmas break. Varsity tip time is set for 7:30 p.m.