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Being able to handle adjustments and adversity is something that the Twinsburg boys basketball team has showed they can do this season. Head coach Bob Pacsi knows this will be a key as his club hopes to succeed in the second half of the campaign.
In one of the better coaching matchups in the league, the Tigers used a second half zone defense to beat visiting Stow-Munroe Falls 42-33 on Jan. 18.
That victory came fresh off of a big non-league home 51-49 win Jan. 15 over a hot Walsh Jesuit (10-2) unit.
In each win, Twinsburg overcame adversity to win.
Standout senior point guard Jalen Washington missed much of the second quarter in the big win over Walsh with an ankle injury and then missed the Stow game after he injured his shoulder sliding for a ball at practice.
Twinsburg has learned to win without Washington, with other personnel losses, and with sterling senior post A.J. Edwards being double-teamed and banged up on.
Twinsburg improved to 10-2, 4-1 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division as of press time.
"We need to get Jalen back at full health and A.J. has had a target on his back all season in the paint," said Pacsi. "We just need to keep battling."
Using seven players, Twinsburg beat Stow and it's staunch man defense under longtime mentor Dave Close, who often had Edwards double and tripled teamed.
"I thought we used some basketball moxie against Stow and the zone worked well to cover up their shooters," Pacsi said.
The Tigers half court zone defense (half 1-2-2 and 3-2 zone) held Stow to just 12 second half points and five buckets in all. Stow fell to 6-7 overall and 1-4 in the NOC River.
After committing just three turnovers through three quarters with Twinsburg up 29-26, Stow committed seven in the fourth quarter alone.
Stow had only two hoops in the fourth, which was won by the Tigers 13-7. The Bulldogs also were woeful from the free throw line, hitting only 6-of-16.
Edwards, averaging 18.5 points, 14.7 rebounds, 4.5 blocks and 2.0 assists a game, was held in check against Stow. He had six points, 12 rebounds, and two feeds.
More importantly, the 6-foot-6 Edwards didn't get frustrated on offense as he was constantly banged in the paint by 6-2 Stow posts Colton Short and Matt Beech, plus 6-1 guard Bryan Ritchie and 6-2 guard Jacob Williams would double down.
The athletic Edwards made an impact on defense in the second half as he helped cease the scoring cuts to the hoop that Stow's Beech had in the first half. Beech (19 points) was held to six points in the second half and Edwards had four blocks.
"We knew they would battle A.J. inside, especially without Jalen," said Pacsi. "To his credit, Edwards didn't get real frustrated. In the second half, we took away Stow's cuts to the hoop."
Both junior guard Tallin Johnson and Edwards were tagged with their third fouls before the first half was over.
In the win over Walsh, Twinsburg trailed by 13 in the second half to fight back as Washington converted a conventional 3-point play on a driving layup in traffic with 31 seconds left.
The Warriors had two opportunities to win, but Max Siwik's three-point shot and a shot by Doug Lewis missed in the final 25 seconds.
Washington finished with five points in the final period and 14 overall while dishing out nine assists.
With 11 of his 20 points in the third quarter, Edwards played a huge role in the win. He also snagged 13 boards.
Against Stow, junior forward-guard Sean Marable had a strong outing with 13 points, strong defense and four rebounds. Johnson had eight points, including two threes, plus handed out three assists.
Senior guard Cooper Rea added six points on a pair of triples and fared well bring up the ball against Stow's pressure. Junior forward Marcus Wallace had six points and four boards while sophomore guard Shane Farmer also played some point guard and hit a 3-pointer.
Johnson had two steals and Wallace had one in the final 1:11 against Stow.
Support in the win over Walsh came from Johnson with six points, Rea had five, Marable four, and Wallace added a hoop. Mark Mittiga led Walsh with 13 points.
In upcoming non-league action, the Tigers host one of the area's top teams -- Garfield Heights (10-2) on Jan. 25, play at Revere (1-11) on Jan. 29, and play at Brunswick (5-6) on Feb. 1 before starting the second round of league action at Solon Feb. 5.