Kolt Koepsell

HOWARD'S Kolt Koepsell goes up for a layup during the team's matchup against Freeman Academy-Marion at the Sanford Pentagon on Thursday.

The Howard Tigers overcame a slow start offensively and 19 turnovers to pick up a 56-53 victory over Freeman Academy-Marion on Wednesday.

“I thought other than the 19 turnovers we played well,” Howard head coach Nick Koepsell said. “They sped us up with their quickness, and we need to handle pressure better moving forward.”

It took the Tigers a moment to find their footing inside the Sanford Pentagon. The Bearcats turned over the Tigers twice on the opening two possessions to jump out to a 4-0 lead.

Luke Koepsell got the Tigers on the board to make it a 4-2 ballgame. Following a Bearcat three-pointer, Howard’s Ryder Erickson knocked down a three-pointer of his own to make it a 7-5 game.

Erickson gave Howard its first lead of the ballgame after he made a layup to give the Tigers a 10-9 lead.

The Bearcats answered with a 5-0 spurt to take a 14-10 lead. Brayden Hinker buried a three-pointer for Howard to make it a one-point ballgame at 14-13.

At the end of the first quarter, the Bearcats held a slim 18-17 lead. Erickson opened the scoring in the second period to give the Tigers a 19-18 lead. Erickson’s bucket was part of a 10-0 run for the Tigers as they claimed a 23-18 lead.

With the Tigers trailing 28-27, Colby Claussen buried a corner three-pointer to put the Tigers up 30-28. It was a lead that the Tigers would never relinquish.

A Jace Sifore layup right before the halftime buzzer gave the Tigers a 32-30 lead at the break.

Hinker started the second half by knocking down a three-pointer to put the Tigers up 35-30. A three-pointer from Will Maier gave the Tigers a 40-33 lead.

At the end of three quarters, the Tigers held a 46-42 lead. Sifore opened the scoring for the Tigers in the final quarter to give them a 48-44 lead. With less than three minutes to play, Sifore made another basket to give the Tigers a 54-46 lead.

The Bearcats clawed their way back into the game with a 7-0 run to trim Howard’s lead to 54-53 with 1:52 left in the game.

Luke Koepsell made arguably the play of the game by blocking an attempted three-pointer. Kolt Koepsell corralled the blocked shot to help secure the victory for the Tigers.

Hinker led the Tigers with 13 points and also grabbed six rebounds. Luke Koepsell scored 10 points, dished out six assists and grabbed six rebounds. Erickson chipped in with nine points. Sifore scored eight points and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.

With the win, the Tigers handed the Bearcats their first loss of the season and improved to 3-1 overall. The Tigers will be back in action on Jan. 3, when they host Colman-Egan.