CALUMET CITY | T.F. North coach Chris Pruitt wants senior Chanel Howard to play more of a leadership role on a young Meteor team. If Tuesday night's win against Evergreen Park was any indicator, Howard may be moving in the right direction.
Howard led the Meteors with 23 points on the way to a 45-44 win over the Mustangs in South Suburban Conference crossover action. Esther Fagbemi scored eight for T.F. North and brought down 11 rebounds. Dayza Dunn scored eight and had eight rebounds, including two big rebounds for T.F. North in the final two minutes. The Meteors struggled on the boards on the night, but Dunn and Fagbemi came up with the big rebounds in the closing minutes.
"Our rebounding, we have to work on that this week," Pruitt said. "Boxing out, that was a big part of being lackadaisical. We're trying to get some leadership out of the seniors."
T.F. North (3-2, 1-1) trailed the entire first half but was down only by one at the break. The Meteors then outscored the Mustangs 13-7 in the third quarter to grab the lead without relinquishing it the rest of the way.
"We definitely played aggressive on offense," Howard said. "We should have beat them by a little more, but it was a lack of communication of defense. They had a lot of people getting open. Overall, I think we took care of the ball and stepped up in the fourth quarter and got the win."
Evergreen Park had possession in the final nine seconds of the game, but a Makaia Garret deflection and near steal ended any hope of a win for the away team. The Meteors are a young team with only three seniors, but Howard and Fagbemi are both seniors who will be looked to this season.
"Our chemistry wasn't there," Pruitt said. "It's a young team, and I think Chanel out of all of them has played the most. I'm trying to get her to understand the leadership role as a point guard. But she's a shooter also, so I'm taking her out of her comfort zone."
Pruitt has been encouraging Howard to be more aggressive on offense, and the senior certainly took her coaches' suggestion to heart Tuesday night.
"My teammates, too, have been pushing me to be aggressive in the offense," Howard said. "I give all the credit to them with the screens, blocks, everything. Their offensive rebounding. That's all them."
The win improved the Meteors to 1-1 in the SSC, and the team is looking to build from a less than stellar 2012-2013 campaign.
"We're looking to do well in the conference," Howard said. "Last year we didn't do so great, but we're using that as motivation to get better in the conference."