There's always that game "you wished you had back," but Twinsburg showed why the Tigers are challenging for a boys basketball title this season with a 65-46 win over defending champion Brush on Feb. 8 at home.
While the Tigers slipped up earlier in the week in a 75-72 loss to arch-rival Solon, Twinsburg is now tied atop the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division standings thanks to the big win over Brush.
Twinsburg, which lost 69-67 at Brush on Dec. 18, was in control from the start to move to 13-4 overall and to 5-2 in the River Division.
"Our kids earned this win," said Tiger mentor Bob Pacsi. "We stubbed our toe Tuesday at Solon and that's why this was so big."
"Solon played extremely well and we didn't, but this time around against Brush, our seniors did a great job. We also have a tremendous group of juniors as well. We just had more of a purpose against Brush."
In only Brush's second game since Jan. 16 due to postponements, Twinsburg built a 19-4 first quarter lead and never relinquished things despite a grueling 2-point second quarter. Twinsburg's defense held Brush to only four baskets in the second half.
"I got on the guys at halftime for letting Brush back into the game," said Pacsi, "In the second half, we expanded our lead and withstood their pressure. Brush is a very good team."
The Tigers are leading the NOC River along with Hudson at 5-2 while Brush is 4-2. Results of Twinsburg's league game at Cuyahoga Falls (2-4 in league) on Feb. 12 were not available press time.
In upcoming NOC play, the Tigers host Hudson on Feb. 15 and wrap up regular season and league on Feb. 22 at Stow-Munroe Falls (2-5).
Seniors A.J. Edwards, Cooper Rea, and Jalen Washington played huge roles in the win over Brush.
Edwards poured in 15 of his game-high 22 points in the second half. He also snagged 14 rebounds and had two blocked shots and two steals.
"I am so happy for A.J. -- he has worked so hard and really bounced back from a tough game at Solon," said Pacsi. "A.J. is battling and he is getting looks from several colleges and he is a tremendous student."
Rea netted 15 points and had three 3-point bombs in the win. The 6-foot-0 Rea scored eight points in the first quarter and had six rebounds and two assists.
After a thunderous slam dunk in transition by Edwards to make it 58-44 with 3:07 left, Rea made a series of big plays in the final minutes to secure the win. Rea canned a critical 1-and-1 free three shot plus had a key offensive rebound with 2:40 left, and then grabbed a big defensive board with 2:20 left.
Rea also hit a trey in the second half that was only the Tigers'' second basket in a stretch of 10:14 over 10 minutes, from the end of the first quarter until 6:00 mark of the third quarter.
Despite that long stretch, Twinsburg still played defense against the explosive Arcs (11-6), who were tossing up 25-foot three-point shot attempts like crazy.
Washington contributed 12 points, four assists, three boards and two thefts.
First-year junior Tallin Johnson is making great strides and scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter against Brush. He hit 5-6 free throws in the fourth and added a strong floor game.
Brush was led by forward Brandon Dawson (21 points), who had a steal and a dunk to make it 50-41 with 4:47 left.
At Solon, Edwards was held to only four baskets and 13 points. . Twinsburg missed a contested three point shot as the clock ran out that would have tied the game.
In the game's final 60 seconds, Solon guard Ny Redding kept the Comets up by three with four key free throws.
The Comets (8-11, 2-5) took advantage of fast break opportunities created from strong defense and featured an alley-oop slam dunk from LaVonne Davis early in the second half on a dish from Redding.
Rea scored 19 points, including four 3-pointers. Washington poured in 16 and bucketed three triples, while Marable netted 10 points.
Solon was led by Josh Glass (19 points), Hari Fair(17 points, six rebounds, and five assists), and Brendan Jackson (11 points, three assists). Twinsburg received a first round bye and was voted the second seed at the upcoming Copley Division I sectional-district tournament.
Despite beating all of the top seeds and going 6-0 against the field in the regular season, Twinsburg was edged for the top seed by Nordonia (17-2).
Twinsburg will play in a March 2 sectional final at Copley against the winner of the first round game between Akron Firestone (12-7) and Stow (9-10).