Tiger boys smash Cuyahoga Falls

by Steve Batko | Correspondent Published:

It was as if Bob Pacsi didn't have anything to say.

The veteran Twinsburg basketball coach tried to find some negatives after his club's convincing 77-57 league home win Jan. 4 over an improved Cuyahoga Falls squad.

Pacsi didn't come up with many flaws in the big Northeast Ohio Conference River Division win, but that doesn't mean there weren't any coaching points.

"Everything fell in place for us and it's because we got good shots and worked hard for them, plus we played strong team defense," said Pacsi. "It was also great to have only nine turnovers.

"This was a Falls team that returned four starters from last year and they got a strong transfer in Angelo Cugini. Our guys were up to the task."

Cugini is a 6-foot-7 junior forward who transferred to Falls from St. Vincent-St. Mary, but his 20 points weren't enough in the Jan. 4 clash.

Twinsburg had four players score 16 or more points and raised its overall mark to 6-2 and to 2-1 in the NOC River. Falls (5-4) dropped to 1-2 in league play.

As of press time, Brush lead the way in the division at 3-0 over Twinsburg and Hudson at 2-1.

"We moved the ball well and had great balance," said Pacsi. "I think we're communicating better now."

Pacsi thought his club's defensive pressure from its man defense keyed a 48-point explosion in the second half. It busted open a one-point game at the half.

Senior point guard Jalen Washington was outstanding as he poured in 18 points and dished out 10 assists.

"Jalen had an excellent game and he has great basketball intelligence," said his mentor. "He did a great job and we had a terrific second half as a team."

A.J. Edwards, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, had a strong overall game. Edwards defended Cugini and was one of three Tigers to score 16 points. Edwards also yanked down 11 rebounds.

Also scoring 16 points was senior guard Cooper Rea and junior guard Tay Johnson.

Rea pumped in a career-best four three-pointers as he was hot from long range. Rea was 6-of-9 from the floor.

Juniors Sean Marable and Johnson both played key defensive roles, but more importantly, neither player had a turnover on the offensive end.

Marable added four rebounds and two steals while Johnson had five boards and help guard standout Falls sharpshooter Josh Ricker. Ricker was held to 17 points.

"It's possible that Edwards and Washington may be the best at their positions in the league, but our other guys are coming up big," explained Pacsi, who has used five different starting combinations through eight games.

For the Tigers, it was great to get hot from beyond the 3-point arch with a season-high eight triples (Falls had six led by Ricker's three), but it's not something Twinsburg looks for often.

Pacsi-coached teams work and pass for the better shot and often pass up open 3-point attempts.

"It's not a matter that we can't make threes, but we like to move the ball around and to attack," the coach said. "We don't like to settle for those shots."

Besides Rea's 3-point showing, Washington canned a pair of triples for the Tigers along with Johnson.

Junior forward Marcus Wallace sparked the Tigers off the bench. He only scored one bucket, but snagged eight rebounds off the bench and played defense along with sophomore guards Shane Farmer and Jarrette Gardenhire (two points).

Twinsburg was an impressive 9-for-11 at the free throw stripe, but Pacsi believes his club can work for more charity shot attempts.

The Tigers had a big non-league test at Nordonia (7-1) on Jan. 8, but results weren't available as of press time.

A crucial league test is for Jan. 11 at Hudson (6-3, 2-1) on Jan. 11 as well as Jan. 18 at home against defensive minded Stow-Munroe Falls (5-4, 1-2). Twinsburg has another tough non-league home game on Jan. 15 against Walsh Jesuit (7-1).

"We just need to be consistent and continue to improve and we realize that we have a tough week coming up," said Pacsi. "I think this group of guys used the Christmas break as good as any group that I have coached here. We just need to work to get better."

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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