Suffocating defense and athletic guard play has enabled the Twinsburg girls' basketball team to hand two consecutive unbeaten teams their first setbacks of the season.
The Lady Tigers opened league play with a big 69-39 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division win over Mentor on Dec. 8.
Mentor (4-1) reached the Sweet 16 in Division I last year as a Cinderella.
On Dec. 5 at home, Twinsburg won 69-43 over Walsh Jesuit (4-1), a talented young club that the Tigers beat in the district semifinals a year ago.
For Twinsburg (5-0) and head coach Julie Solis, the next unbeaten foe came Dec. 12 against visiting arch-rival Solon (3-0). Final results of that league game weren't available as of press time.
Senior guards Brooke Smith and Ashley Morrissette went wild against Mentor.
Smith led the host Tigers with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Smith had seven steals and four assists while Morrissette netted 16 points, dished out seven assists, and had seven steals.
Junior Baleigh Reid also plays some guard as the versatile 5-10 Reid poured in 16 points to go with four boards and three feeds.
Defensive quickness has been leading the Tigers to more hoops on the offensive end as well as in transition.
In the win over Walsh, Twinsburg forced 27 turnovers, including 15 in a 39-13 first half.
Walsh had a 15-2 second half run behind some sloppy play by the Tigers (eight of their 21 turnovers), but was held to 29 percent shooting overall. The Warriors were only 2-of-12 from the 3-point arch.
Solis wasn't thrilled with the lack of intensity and eight turnovers in the third period, but the Lady Tigers weathered the storm.
Morrissette was outstanding with 18 points, eight assists, five rebounds, four steals and two blocks.
The Tigers frontcourt is also contributing.
Senior center Char-dell Dunnigan bounced back with a strong game in the paint with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Smith netted 10 points and snagged seven boards.
In the win over Mentor, senior post Mercedes Hobbs helped out on the glass with five caroms and scored six points while junior forward Marisa Howard netted two points and pulled down a season-high seven rebounds.
Sophomore guard Megan Brown scored her first varsity points as she buried a 3-pointer. Junior guard Tranae Conard also had a hoop along with Dunnigan.
Mentor was led by Lauren Stefancin as the 5-foot-10 guard poured in nearly half of the team's points with 18.
Another talented guard, sophomore Aloneet Durden, had eight points for the Tigers in the win over Walsh.
Howard chipped in strong defense and five points. Hobbs had two and sophomore Jaime Sanborn added two free throws.
Senior guard Arion Roseboro and sophomore center Emily Caplice are other Tigers who have contributed this season.
Walsh guard Jessa Gilberto was held below (12 points) her 18.0 point average. Rachel Keough had 10 points for Walsh.
Warrior sophomore standouts Lilli Piper (seven points, 10 boards, and three blocks) and Anna Hall (four points, five assists, and seven thefts) also helped.
Twinsburg will be looking to claim another NOC Valley title and in upcoming action, hosts Stow Dec. 15 and plays at Hudson on Dec. 19.