Teamwork, versatility and unselfish play came to the forefront for an intriguing Twinsburg boys' basketball team in a big league win over arch-rival Solon.
Veteran head coach Bob Pacsi continues to get contributions from every member of his eight-player rotation in the Tigers' 54-43 win over Solon before a packed house at home on Dec. 14.
It was a monster win because it was the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division opener for the Tigers.
Then again, any victory over Solon is huge for Twinsburg.
"We played extremely well together against a very experienced and athletic Solon team," said Pacsi, who club moved to 3-1 overall. Solon, which returned four starters from last year, fell to 3-2.
"It was a big win for us in a game with a tremendous atmosphere," Pacsi said. "At this point, I can pull names [of Tiger players] out of a hat and be comfortable starting all five kids."
A critical 16-4 advantage in the second quarter by Twinsburg washed away a first quarter in which Solon led 11-7. It could have been a bigger opening period as Solon had a nine point lead.
Twinsburg's lead surged after that point, but Solon cut the Tiger lead to eight late in the second half as veteran senior guard Jalen Washington fouled out of the game.
However, juniors Marcus Wallace and Tay Johnson came up big to support standout senior A.J. Edwards.
Wallace, a forward, had several key plays in the final 90 seconds to secure the win. He had a nice feed for an Edwards bucket, plus also had a key offensive rebound and put back hoop.
Johnson, a first-year wing, started and netted 11 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out a career-high six assists.
"I thought that Marcus Wallace had some huge plays late to keep us up and Johnson stepped up really big," said Pacsi.
"Tay (Johnson) gives us a nice look as a starter and he can do a lot of things, but those six assists were huge with Jalen fouling out."
Edwards continues to shine this year as he is posting rebounding numbers that Twinsburg hasn't seen since NBA veterab James Posey wore Twinsburg colors.
The 6-foot-6 Edwards poured in 24 points and snagged 19 rebounds for the second time this year. He added four blocked shots, three steals and one of the team's 20 assists.
"A.J. was the best player on the court," said Pacsi.
Washington had six points and dished out six feeds while junior Sean Marable and Wallace each had four points. Sophomore guard Jarette Gardenhire added three points and senior Cooper Rea, two.
"I think it was a game where our new (varsity) players grew up and played very well," said Pacsi, who also uses senior wing Anthony Ellis and sophomore guard Shane Farmer.
Twinsburg's defense continues to be strong as the Tigers forced 17 turnovers and defended Solon's shooters.
The Tigers had an off shooting game on Dec. 11 in a 60-55 loss against North Royalton (4-0). Twinsburg managed just 29 points through three quarters.
Washington popped in 18 points and Edwards had 17 in the loss.
Rea canned a pair of three-pointers and finished with 10, Marable had seven points, Johnson four, and Wallace had two.
Twinsburg was set to travel to Brush Dec. 18, but results were not available at press time.
The Tigers will next see action Dec. 21 at Olmsted Falls. Varsity tip time is set for 7:30 p.m.