There's still plenty of work to be done in the regular season for the Twinsburg girls basketball team.
A big first half enabled Twinsburg to move to 6-0 league action with a 67-51 win at Mentor on Jan. 26, but the Tigers still have to win the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division title.
Twinsburg must face the top two challengers -- Hudson and Solon -- one more time.
The Tigers play at arch-rival Solon (13-3, 4-2) on Feb. 2.
Red-hot Hudson (15-2) will travel to Twinsburg (17-0) on Feb. 9 and has won 10 straight games. The Explorers are 5-1 in the league. Also on the league slate is a Feb. 6 road trip to Stow (11-5, 2-4) and a Feb. 13 home tilt against Shaker Heights (2-12, 0-6).
In addition, Twinsburg was set for a tough non-league road trip to defending Division II state champion Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown (14-4) on Jan. 30. Results were not available at press time.
It was Hathaway Brown who last beat Twinsburg in a regular season game in the season opener in 2009.
Hudson is ranked 10th in Ohio and Solon is 12th in Division I, while Hathaway Brown is third in Division II.
"This week is huge for us and, actually, all five games are big," said head coach Julie Solis.
Twinsburg has beaten eight different teams this winter that have been state ranked. That's nearly half of the Tiger's schedule.
A 22-6 first quarter blitz at Mentor led to a huge 42-17 halftime lead for Twinsburg, but Mentor fought back to make it respectable in the second half.
The Cardinals, 11-6 overall, reached the Sweet 16 in Division I a year ago and recently beat Walsh Jesuit, a strong club that will likely merit a high seed in Twinsburg's district -- the Akron Ellet sectional.
"We had a real nice first half and Mentor just kept pressing us, and they made up some ground," said Solis. "Our kids got complacent at times and I know big leads can be tough [on both teams], but my expectations are for our kids to have a complete game."
Twinsburg sizzled early on with a 15-0 lead out of the gates. The Tigers hit 10-of-15 from the floor in the first quarter.
Senior guard Ashley Morrissette was on fire as she scored nine of the Tigers' first 15 points and Twinsburg forced eight turnovers with their full-court pressure and quickness.
Mentor outscored the Tigers 34-25 in the second half.
Senior leaders paced the Lady Tigers. Morrissette, headed to Purdue University, finished with 18 points. Seniors Brooke Smith (Cleveland State) and Char-dell Dunnigan (George Mason) collected 15 and 10 points, respectively.
Junior Baleigh Reid scored 13 points with a strong outing and senior post Mercedes Hobbs added eight points as Solis was thrilled with the scoring balance.
Marisa Howard, a junior post, added a field goal while sophomore Jaime Sanborn added a free throw.
Lauren Stefancin and Kayla Gabor scored 17 points apiece for the Cardinals. Lacey Miller added six points.