Marquez Williams wasn't quite sure how to react.
After all, Howard's senior guard had never experienced a win over rival Brainerd, so he simply grinned from ear to ear and pumped his fist in the air as he left the court on the way to his team's locker room after Friday night's game.
The visiting Hustlin' Tigers used an impressive second-half surge to pull away from Brainerd and register a 67-46 District 6-AA win.
"Man, this feels good," Williams said. "I don't really know how to act or what to say, but I do know this feels good to come in here and beat them like that.
"When we were down at halftime, me being a leader, I told my teammates that it wasn't over and we just had to come out and take it from them. After those first few minutes of the second half, you could tell that we were going to be a different team."
Trailing by nine at halftime, Howard took command with a 21-8 third-quarter run, then pulled away late by outscoring the Panthers 17-4 over a four-minute span in the fourth.
It was Howard's first win in the series in five years.
"We've been the team getting our rear ends beat and getting laughed at for the last five years, and our guys wanted to put an end to that," first-year Howard coach James Talley said. "Part of our motto is to fight till you can't fight anymore, and that's what we did. We're young and we got down, but we proved we've got some fighters on this team.
"I'm really happy for our kids to get to end that streak."
Despite not making a field goal in the second quarter, Brainerd (1-2) extended its lead by making seven of 10 free throws and limiting Howard to two field goals during the period.
While Brainerd continued to struggle from the field, not hitting a field goal until midway through the third quarter, Howard heated up to take momentum and never let up. Telijah Snow led all scorers with 20 points, and Meechie Bowens added 16 for Howard (4-0).
"We got satisfied at halftime," Brainerd coach Levar Brown said. "I told our guys how important the first few minutes of the second half would be, but they outhustled us and just beat us on effort. That's something we've got to get fixed."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.