HOWELL — After winning their previous two games by 42 points apiece, the Howell girls basketball team started Friday’s game looking to better that.
The Highlanders soared out to a 22-3 lead in the first quarter, then withstood a Pinckney rally before pulling away down the stretch to take a 57-31 victory on Friday night.
It kept Howell (8-1 overall, 3-0 KLAA West) tied for first in the division going into Tuesday’s showdown with Hartland, which beat Brighton 42-35.
Pinckney (6-3, 0-3) rebounded from a slow start, cutting the lead to eight, 26-18, while the Highlanders struggled in the second period.
“As a staff, we’ve identified a trend we’ve got to fix,” Howell coach Tim Olszewski said. “Every second quarter, we get in foul trouble, and our second quarters have been killing us. We’ve got to get better on execution, we’ve got to be smarter, we’ve got to finish better.”
The first quarter was another story. The Highlanders got rolling early while the Pirates struggled mightily.
“They came out hot, they came out ready,” Pinckney coach Jarrett Cogswell said of Howell. “They hit some big shots and ran the floor well, and before we knew that we were here, it was 24-3. It was a tough start.”
“I think we underestimated their ability and their speed, and we came out slower than we usually do,” Pinckney junior Chloe Hanifan said.
Howell’s troubles came when Erin Honkala and Leah Weslock both sat with foul trouble in the second quarter. The Highlanders didn’t score until nearly five minutes had passed in the second quarter, and Pinckney got to within eight points twice before Howell began to pull away again.
“We got in some foul trouble and we let them get on a little run,” Howell’s Paige Johnson said. “We calmed it back down. We tightened our defense again.”
Honkala had 17 points to lead all scorers, while Johnson added 14 for the Highlanders, who led by as many as 31 points in the second half. Hanifan had 11 to pace the Pirates.
Friday’s game ended a gauntlet for the Pirates, who began the season with Hartland and Brighton before playing the Highlanders. Next week, they’ll have Milford (5-4, 1-2) and Grand Blanc (2-6, 0-3) on the slate.
“We take them one at a time,” Cogswell said. “We have film (Saturday) after we spend time reffing for the little kids, aand we’ll look at the film and attack it the next day.”
Howell, meanwhile, has Brighton on the road Friday after Tuesday’s home date with Hartland.
“We’re really going to be challenged next week,” Olszewski said. “There will be a log of energy with both of those teams. It’s going to be fun basketball and we’ll keep working hard, doing what we do, and, hopefully, good things will happen.”