Howe 60, Commerce 17

The Howe Lady Bulldogs scored 29 points in the first quarter, enough, it turned out, to win the game. The girls then concentrated on defense in a 60-17 win over Commerce at Howe on Jan. 20.

Commerce is really going through its struggles on the court, for the Lady Tigers at least, and they proved to be no match for the Lady Bulldogs pressing defense in the opening eight minutes.

For most of the 2016-17 season, Howe coach Derek Lands has been rotating five starters and five subs at roughly four-minute intervals in most games. His starters, paced by early 3-point makes by senior Madisyn Hargrove and junior Peyton Streetman, got off to a 6-0 start on Howe’s first two possessions. That 3-pointer was Hargrove’s only points of the game, but her defensive play was certainly noticeable.

Turnovers plagued the Lady Tigers early — they did not cross mid-court on their first four possessions.

Steals became points for Howe with freshman Jenna Honore sending in a pair of shots from the corner, adding to the Lady Bulldog lead. Senior Landry Rhoten scored from the paint at the 4:58 mark and Lands sent in his second bunch.

Sophomore Callie Vick found the range for a 3-pointer right out of the gate, giving Howe a 15-0 lead. Senior Kayla Anderson sent in a pair of shots off of nice paint moves. After Vick had put back an offensive rebound, Anderson wheeled down the lane to score again, boosting the Lady Bulldog advantage to 23-0. Anderson finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, and she also kept the Lady Tigers scoreless from inside the paint during her on-court minutes. Junior Payton Griffin hit a pair of free throws, then assisted on a Vick basket, before senior Emily Sanders banked in a shot to close out a 29-4, first-quarter run.

After freshman Ally Harvey took a pass from Rhoten on a dive-cut down the lane to score, Lands tapped the brakes on the full-court pressure. For the final 20 minutes, Howe played mostly straight up zone, pulling back on the offensive end as well. Rhoten scored a pair of baskets and Harvey scored again to push the Lady Bulldog lead to 39-6. Rhoten finished with seven points, seven rebounds and a block, maintaining her position as the area’s third leading rebounder. Vick and Anderson each scored late baskets to send the teams to the halftime break with Howe on top, 45-6.

After the first half, Streetman scored five of Howe’s seven points in the third quarter and Anderson scored on a post move, taking a pass from Sanders. Sanders had a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter and Griffin scored late to cap the 43-point win by the Lady Bulldogs.

The Lady Bulldogs travel to Lone Oak on Jan. 24 for a pivotal game with the Lady Buffs, currently tied with Howe for third place in the district.

Howe will host league-leading Whitewright on Jan. 27.