Twinsburg girls roll past Harding

by Steve Batko | Correspondent Published:

Once the Twinsburg girls basketball team was "evened up" by a 14-14 second quarter against Warren Harding in the Ellet Division I sectional final, it didn't matter what the final score was.

Twinsburg head coach Julie Solis wasn't going to be thrilled.

Obviously, top seed and two-time state champion Twinsburg went on to cruise to a 74-31 win over Harding (4-18) in the Feb. 21 sectional final.

"I'm happy to move onto the next game," said Solis, who hopes to capture her 100th win as a Tiger mentor when Twinsburg (24-0) meets Aurora in the Feb. 28 district semifinal at Ellet at 5:45 p.m.

Solis, 99-5 in her tenure at Twinsburg, saw her troops jump out to a 25-6 lead in the first quarter and then flatten out with a 14-14 second period. Twinsburg went on to blitz the Raiders 24-3 in the third quarter, but the lapse didn't go unnoticed.

"I think we need to do a better job of taking care of the ball and shoring up with the turnovers, plus we need to finish much better in the paint," said Solis, who is assisted this year by Greg Whitmer, Julie Buckler, and Alex Lepp.

The young Raiders hustled for an early 8-4 run in the second stanza to cut the lead to 29-14, but couldn't keep pace with Twinsburg's full court pressure. The Tigers forced 30 turnovers.

Senior point guard Brooke Smith led Twinsburg as she poured in a game-high 20 points and had a superb floor game.

Smith, headed to Cleveland State University, dished out seven assists, had four steals and four rebounds. She helped Twinsburg to commit just one turnover in the third, a quarter that she produced nine points in.

As the Tigers got going in the second half, Smith fed sophomore Aloneet Durden for 3-pointer to give Twinsburg a 58-23 lead with 2:14 left in the third. Then Smith hit a pair of free throws and buried her own trey with 1:11 left as the Tigers led 63-23 entering the final 8:00.

"I thought that Brooke and Aloneet both did some very nice things out there," said Solis.

Twinsburg will face Aurora (15-7) in a district semifinal at Ellet as the victor will play in the Ellet district championship game on March 2 at 1 p.m.

"Our mental approach is that we're not so much concerned with our opponent as we are ourselves and how we are playing," pointed out Solis.

Aurora, competing for only its second season in Division I, has six seniors and are led by post Camilla Brown, guard-forward Allison Howard, point guard Danielle Lasky, and forward-guard Erin McNamara.

Both Brown and Howard were honorable mention All-District performers a year ago, but Aurora's schedule has not offered the Lady Greenmen to go up against the quickness that Twinsburg will posses.

Hudson and Walsh Jesuit will meet in then other district semifinal at Ellet on Feb. 28 (8 p.m.).

Once again, Solis has no preference as her club has beaten both teams this year (Hudson twice). Twinsburg bested Walsh 57-37 in last year's Ellet district semifinal

Hudson was ranked 10th in the final Ohio poll and is 19-5. Walsh is 17-7.

Senior guard Ashley Morrissette finished with 16 points and four thefts in the win over Harding while junior guard Baleigh Reid netted 12 points and had four rebounds.

Durden had a nice floor game. The 5-foot-9 wing had eight points, three boards, three steals, two assists, two 3-point bombs, and a blocked shot.

Char-dell Dunnigan, a senior center, scored six points and had five caroms while sophomore post Jaime Sanborn had three points and two thefts.

Junior Tranae Conard hit a 3-pointer off the bench and senior Mercedes Hobbs added two points and three steals. Junior Marisa Howard and sophomore Emily Caplice each added a hoop.

"I was pretty pleased with how our younger kids off the bench played and moved without the ball," said Solis.

Harding was led by posts Patrai Murray (12 points and six rebounds) and Maya Bell (10 points, five boards).

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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