Wadsworth always plays Twinsburg tough in girls basketball and head coach Julie Solis knew the Grizzlies would be a handful in the comforts of its new gym.
However, the two-time state champion Tigers showed their pedigree by remaining patient and using a 21-2 fourth quarter blitz to blow open a tight road game in a 50-36 win on Dec. 1.
For the third straight game, Twinsburg trailed in a tough battle that the Tigers won to move to 3-0, but it shouldn't come as a total surprise.
Despite the presence of All-Ohio guard Ashley Morrissette, who played in her first game of the winter at Wadsworth, Twinsburg has several new starters and a new-look rotation with athletes having greater roles. The schedule is brutal.
"Winning is intrinsic, and also great tradition is a part of it," said head coach Julie Solis, of the comeback win.
"What I saw tonight is that these kids are winners. We have some girls with bigger roles and we have been down all three of our games and won them all. It's a great quality in life, not just for basketball."
In fact, Twinsburg held the lead only one time before the Tigers seized the lead for good with 3:42 left to play.
Down by as many as six points, Twinsburg uncharacteristically had trouble against Wadsworth's 2-2-1 full court press at times and trailed 34-29 after three quarters. In addition, the Grizzlies were already in the free throw bonus.
Twinsburg fired back when sophomore guard Aloneet Durden posted her only points of the game -- a three-point bomb on the right elbow on a dish from senior guard Brooke Smith. That tied it 34-34 with 6:03 left.
Twenty seconds later, Solis used her second timeout of the half due to the Grizzly press and that's when the Tigers exploded.
Morrissette nailed a pull-up jumper and then with 3:42 left received a feed from Smith and converted an old fashioned three-point play to give Twinsburg the lead 39-36.
Then, after a Tiger stop on defense, senior post Char-dell Dunnigan got another conventional three-point play.
As Wadsworth went cold, the Tigers jumped on the hosts as Smith hit both ends of a 1-on-1 free throw to make it 44-36 with 2:40 left. It was a 15-2 run just like that.
A steal by Dunnigan and a block by Morrissette keyed the win down the stretch as Twinsburg sank 9-of-15 free throws to end the game.
"To be honest, I kind of thought we may start flat and Ashley [Morrissette] is a much better shooter than what we saw, but the girls were calm during our tough stretches," said Solis.
Morrissette, who is headed to Purdue, had a tough game shooting as she was 5-16 overall and 1-6 beyond the three-point arch, but she finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Despite early foul trouble, Dunnigan was outstanding with 15 points, eight rebounds, two thefts and a 9-11 showing at the free throw line. Twinsburg was 20-30 overall at the free throw stripe.
Junior guard Baleigh Reid was a force on the offensive glass with career highs of nine rebounds and six offensive boards. She had 11 points with three steals.
"I'm so proud of Dunnigan and Reid -- they both played great and did a great job on the boards," said Solis. "Durden had a huge three-pointer to tie for a sophomore as well."
"I can't be more proud of Char-dell and the job she did on the boards -- she is really starting to get it," added the coach of the Division I George Mason recruit.
Smith added five points, five caroms, and four assists. Durden had five rebounds and three steals.
Senior Mercedes Hobbs (two steals) and junior Marisa Howard both played strong post defense. Twinsburg forced 17 turnovers while only committing 10.
Twinsburg had a 37-25 advantage on the boards with 14 offensive caroms. In the second half, Twinsburg owned the glass (24-9) and had 10 offensive boards.
Wadsworth, which was 22-4 last year and reached the Elite 8, was led by guard Rachel Goddard's 14 points. Final results of the Dec. 5 game against Walsh Jesuit were not available as of press time.
In upcoming action, Twinsburg enjoys home games Dec. 8 against Mentor in the Northeast Ohio Conference opener and against arch rival Solon on Dec. 12 and Stow-Munroe Falls on Dec. 15.