Cuyahoga Falls -- While the backyard rivalry aspect of a Cuyahoga Falls vs. Stow-Munroe Falls contest is still there, the last few years have seen the Bulldogs elevate their play to a higher level.
For one half, the Black Tigers seemed to catch up with Stow a bit.
In the second half, however, Stow showed its pedigree.
After leading just 25-14 at halftime, Stow erupted in the second half and cruised to a 64-29 win at Cuyahoga Falls Dec. 3.
Stow also routed Garfield Heights 71-29 on Dec. 5 on the road, while Falls dropped a 50-47 decision to Brush Dec. 5 at Brush.
As a result, Stow's record stood at 2-0 as of press time, while Falls dropped to 0-5.
Bulldogs coach Bob Podges said his team definitely wasn't sharp on offense early.
"We went through the motions in the first half," Podges said. "I think it's been a while since we played, but we also just weren't sharp. There was a lack of patience on the offensive end."
Falls coach Joe Nowak said he knew the caliber of the team he was facing.
"I think we did what we needed to accomplish in the first half," Nowak said. "What's important is that we don't hurt ourselves on either end of the floor. Right now, we're just trying to build some depth."
Stow must have felt there was a lid on the basket in the first half, as numerous shots rimmed out. Falls did a good job on the boards in the first half, led by senior center Jasmine Eaker. Eaker finished with seven points and nine rebounds.
The problem for Falls was, while Stow's offense wasn't clicking early, its defense was relentless. Nowak said his team committed "at least 30" turnovers.
"You give any team that many extra chances and you're going to get hurt," Nowak said.
Stow couldn't take advantage of those extra chances early, as Stow led only 7-4 after one quarter.
In the second quarter, things started to unravel a bit for Falls, as Eaker and starting guards Emily Morgan and Hannah Johnson started to pick up foul trouble.
As a result, Stow had a huge edge in free throws. Stow finished 22-of-36 from the line, compared to 4-of-12 for Falls.
Still, the shots weren't falling for Stow, as a buzzer-beating jumper from Sam Shaver gave Stow a 25-14 lead at the half.
Podges let his team have it concerning that offense.
"We had a short, pointed conversation at halftime," Podges said.
He then smiled and refused to elaborate on what was said.
Whatever was said, the Bulldogs got the message.
Backup point guard Carly Terry provided a spark when she hit Stow's first three-pointer of the game. Terry had her best game as a varsity player, finishing with nine points.
Stow took a 40-21 lead after three quarters. Only a seven-point third quarter from Falls forward Mary Messner keep the Black Tigers within shouting distance.
Messner led Falls with 11 points and six rebounds.
Much like its opener against Youngstown Ursuline, Stow hit the accelerator and pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Shaver led the charge, scoring eight of her game-high 16 points in the final quarter. Shaver and the rest of the Stow guards scored numerous run-out layups off turnovers in the final eight minutes.
Abbie Lawson finished with 11 points for Stow, while freshman Jessica Stout put up a career-high eight points.
Stow outscored Falls 24-8 in the final quarter and the 35-point margin at game's end was the biggest.
There was no slow start for Stow against Garfield Heights, as Stow took a 13-5 lead after one quarter and then erupted for 26 second-quarter points to lead 39-12 at the half.
Forward Danielle Tiller led Stow with 14 points, while Shaver had 12 points.
Stow was set to face its archrival Dec. 8 as Hudson was due to visit Stow. Results were not available at press time.
Stow faces a pair of Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division road games this week. The Bulldogs will travel to Mentor Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m., followed by a trip to defending Division I state champion Twinsburg Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m.