The Cuyahoga Falls High School girls basketball team's 2016-17 season came to an end recently, but the Lady Black Tigers gave their final opponent all that it could handle.
Cuyahoga Falls battled Wooster in the Division I sectional finals on the road Feb. 23. After a hard-fought battle, the Lady Black Tigers fell to defeat by the slim margin of 62-58.
Falls trailed 27-24 at the half and by as many as nine points in the second half before rallying in the fourth quarter to cut the Lady Generals' lead to 49-48 with four minutes to play.
"We showed tremendous resolve in continuing to rally and had the ball only down one in back-to-back possessions," said Cuyahoga Falls head coach Joe Nowak. "We just couldn't get that one basket to put us on top. The tournament loss, though, should in no way diminish the growth that we showed this season."
Falls junior Kayla Huffman scored a team-high 17 points against Wooster, followed by freshman Chelsea Huffman with 16 points and senior Bailee Brooks with 12 points.
Senior Emma Freeman added six points, junior Anna Steiner had four points, and points from De'Vine Shelton and Hannah Merten rounded out the scoring for the Lady Black Tigers.
With the win, Wooster improved to 19-4 and advanced to the district semifinals, where the Lady Generals lost to Wadsworth.
Cuyahoga Falls finished the season with an overall record of 12-12. The Lady Black Tigers were also 4-10 in the National Division of the Suburban League.
"We more than doubled our win total from a year ago, going from five wins to 12," said Nowak. "We showed that we could compete with everybody we played against this year. We have the chance to welcome back up to 10 players in the fall, including three starters from this season, who logged varsity minutes."
Kayla Huffman will be the Lady Black Tigers' top returning scorer and rebounder next year. This season, she averaged 11 points and five rebounds per game. Chelsea Huffman, meanwhile, averaged 8.5 points per game, and Merten will be the team's third returning scorer at 3.4 points a contest.
Cuyahoga Falls is graduating a pair of seniors, though. As a result, the Lady Black Tigers will have to replace the scoring and rebounding void left by the graduation of Brooks and Freeman.
Brooks is a Marietta College recruit who averaged a team-high 13 points per game this season. Freeman, on the other hand, led the team in rebounding for the third consecutive year.
"Bailee and Emma will graduate, having left a very positive impression on the program, and we'll miss them a great deal," Nowak said. "They're talented players, but more importantly, they are even better people, and I know they'll be successful in college in whatever field they decide to pursue."