Tiger girls shine at Classic in the Country

by Steve Batko | Correspondent Published:

Julie Solis may have put it best describing Twinsburg's come from behind 45-38 win over state power counterpart Reynoldsburg in the Classic in the Country on Jan. 21.

"Our game management by the players is what impressed me," Solis said.

Top-ranked Twinsburg used a 17-3 run to erase a sevent-point deficit late in the third quarter to beat Reynoldsburg in the Amish Pie Company CITC Powered by Under Armour.

Solis saw her Tigers post a 55-37 win over another Cincinnati Princeton (10-6) Jan. 20 at the CITC.

The two wins by the Lady Tigers at the Perry Reese Junior Center at Berlin Hiland moved Twinsburg to 15-0.

Ranked fourth in Ohio, Reynoldsburg is 15-2. Last year, Twinsburg beat the Raiders 49-41 in a Division I state semifinal.

"I was incredibly proud of the kids for this win after being a little disappointed over last night's game [the win over Princeton]," said Solis.

Playing its first game in 10 days, Twinsburg opened the CITC a bit sluggish.

The game against Princeton was anticipated because of the matchup between Tiger senior guard Ashley Morrissette and Princeton's Kelsey Mitchell, the nation's top-ranked junior point guard. However, Mitchell was out with a foot sprain.

More anticipation was put on the second clash as Reynoldsburg ­ last year's state poll champion, has the experience, size, and athleticism to challenge Twinsburg in March.

Twinsburg did many things to thwart the Raiders late in Berlin. The Tigers forced 0-5 shooting and seven turnovers in the final period with its defense. Twinsburg also had a surprising 31-20 advantage on the boards.

Adjustments also were a key to the big win.

The Lady Tigers did a great job of disrupting Reynoldsburg's passing lanes in the paint in the second half.

In addition, Solis made a tactical move in the second half against the Raiders' full court press, which caused havoc with seven turnovers in the first quarter. In fact, the Tigers had five turnovers in the first 2:20 of the game and trailed 6-0.

Morrissette was moved to the center of the court and was the recipient of passes off the backcourt pressure -- rather than being the guard pushing the ball up against the press.

"They were trapping Ashley with the ball and we just needed to get her more down the court," said Solis.

Speaking of Morrissette, she had 20 points in each CITC win.

The Purdue-bound guard never left the game and commented when asked about her will to succeed.

"I think I get the will to win from my dad," she said. "We just did not want any let down."

When Thomas buried a three-pointer to cap a 16-3 Reynoldsburg run, the Raiders were up 35-28 with 1:08 left in the third quarter. It looked grim for the Tigers as senior guard Brooke Smith was then tagged with her fourth foul.

Then Morrissette hit a deep triple and after senior post Char-dell Dunnigan scored on a put back hoop, Morrissette had a steal and a layup to give the Tigers a 40-37 lead with 2:02 left.

A double-dribble by the Raiders led to junior Baleigh Reid hitting both ends of a bonus at the free throw line. It was a 12-2 Tiger run as Twinsburg led 42-37 with 59.2 ticks left.

Smith then hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 27.3 seconds to seal the win as Twinsburg played much of the second half without any timeouts as Solis had to burn them early and often.

Both Smith (five points, four rebounds, and two steals) and junior post Marisa Howard didn't score a lot, but they made critical shots as did sophomore Aloneet Durden, whose only basket snapped the Raiders' 16-3 second-half run.

Howard, who had five rebounds and two steals off the bench, scored a bucket to give Twinsburg its first lead of the game -- 19-17 with 2:57 left in the first half.

Despite being guarded by four different Raiders, Morrissette scored 20 points, had four assists and two steals.

After an ordinary first half, Dunnigan came alive with eight second half points and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds. Reid added six points and strong defense as she played the full 32 minutes while senior post Mercedes Hobbs defended well and added two points and three boards.

In fact, Twinsburg was a monster on the boards at the CITC, out boarding its foes 82-48 in the two games!

Twinsburg beat Princeton despite committing 20 turnovers and allowing 14 offensive boards.

Morrissette netted 20 points, including 10-10 at free throw line. She had five rebounds and four assists.

Smith netted 11 points, but only committed one turnover in 24 minutes. She added six rebounds, four steals and two feeds. Reid added 11 points and five caroms.

Hobbs excelled with seven points and a game-high 10 rebounds, plus blocked two shots. Dunnigan had four points and six boards. Durden had two points and Howard added three boards.

Princeton was led by post Jasmyn Hardin, who had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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