Twinsburg girls grind out victory over North Canton Hoover

by Steve Batko | Correspondent Published:

It was just was the doctor ordered for the Twinsburg girls basketball team -- a rugged 55-49 win over a powerful North Canton Hoover club Jan. 9 at home.

Timing was good too -- Twinsburg was the top-ranked division I club in Ohio in the recent AP state poll and Hoover was ranked seventh.

The win for the Tigers (14-0) also came before a lengthy break before the Classic In The Country.

"It was a big win and North Canton is a really good team that is well coached," said head coach Julie Solis.

More importantly, Solis learned a few things about her club after the huge home win.

Some of those things Solis learned weren't all positive and she is just fine with that.

Twinsburg showed they could continue to impress with several double digit leads against a strong Vikings unit.

Uncharacteristically, Twinsburg had a host of turnovers in the backcourt, which was a first this season.

That same backcourt also once again showed why they are one of the finest in Ohio with its defensive quickness that paid huge dividends in a last-minute flurry.

Twinsburg also had to go against Hoover's staunch front line with mixed results on both ends.

Finally, Solis saw her club -- with four new starters this winter -- have the poise to survive a war that had a regional final feeling to it.

Tied with a minute to play, the host Tigers scored the game's final six points on a wave of drives, steals and free throws to notch a 55-49 victory and remain undefeated.

"I schedule people I know are going to give us competition and give us a game," Tigers head coach Julie Solis said after her No. 1-ranked Tigers improved to 14-0. "And that's what they gave us, and that's what we needed."

Hoover fell to 9-2 but not without a fight.

The No. 7-ranked Vikings came onto Tiger turf with only one senior, Kelsey Peare. The wing headed to Ashland University showed off all her talents as she scored a team-high 18 points, most on slashing drives through the lane.

Peare's rebound, drive and dish to a trailing Julie Worley gave Hoover its second and last lead of the second half at 49-48 with 1:59 to play.

The biggest reason for the loss was Twinsburg's intense defensive pressure. It helped force 27 Hoover turnovers, including 15 in the second half that produced 14 vital points.

But Vikings head coach Abbey Allerding loved the spirited play of her young team in the mad house that is the home of the two-time defending Division I state champions.

And why not? They scored the final eight points of the second quarter to tie 24-24 at half. They scored the final six of the third to trail just 42-36 entering the fourth quarter.

Then, they produced an 11-2 run that gave them their last lead, and hope for the upset.

"Coming in here, playing the No. 1 team, with a freshman point guard, we're going to expect some of those turnovers," Allerding said after her team's six-game winning streak was snapped. "Obviously, we need to fix some of those things. But overall, I'm very proud of them, the way they played, the way they kept coming back."

Hoover got most of its scoring from Peare and Worley (17 points). The duo combined for 35 points, 11 of the team's 18 buckets and nine of its 13 made free throws. Add in 15 rebounds between them and they shined

Hoover (10-2) led 49-48 with 1:55 left. Riding a 6-game win streak, Hoover looked like it was going to be the first Ohio team to beat Twinsburg in the regular season since 2009 when Hathaway Brown beat the Tigers 74-47 in the season opener.

After senior Char-dell Dunnigan hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game, Twinsburg got a defensive stop and then senior Ashley Morrissette's pull up drive in the middle of the lane put the hosts up 51-49 with 52 seconds left.

Then came a rapid fire flurry that produced a Tiger steal by sophomore Aloneet Durden, who had the ball stolen by Hoover's Brooke Matinides, who was then swiped by Twinsburg's Brooke Smith.

Smith, a senior guard headed to Cleveland State, was fouled with 34.9 ticks left and calmly buried both free throws to make it 53-49.

Junior Baleigh Reid then stole the Vikings' inbounds pass, Hoover's 15th turnover in the second half and 27th for the game, which led to a Smith hoop to seal the win.

Hoover scored the final eight points of the second quarter to tie it 24-24 at half plus scored the final six of the third to trail 42-36 entering the fourth quarter.

The Vikes got most of its scoring from Peare (18 points) and Julie Worley (17 points).

Morrissette scored 20 points, snagged nine rebounds and dished out four assists.

Smith contributed 16 points, seven thefts, five assists, two blocked shots, and was 2-of-3 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. Dunnigan had nine points.

Reid had six points, but didn't have a turnover to go with three steals, three boards, three assists, and two blocks.

Senior Mercedes Hobbs and Durden each had two points. Junior post Marisa Howard also defended off the bench.

The two-time state champion Tigers were ranked first in the initial Division I state poll.

The Tigers meet two more state ranked clubs at the CITC at Berlin Hiland in Reynoldsburg (fourth) and Cincinnati Princeton (12th). Tigers meet Princeton on Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. and play Reynoldsburg on Jan. 21 at 3:15 p.m.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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