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It could have been easy for the Twinsburg boys basketball squad to fold as Cuyahoga Falls was battling back in the second half.
However, Twinsburg held off the Black Tiger charge to prevail 54-47 at home in a Suburban League National Conference game Jan. 20.
A back-and-forth first half led to a third-quarter push by Falls, which outscored the hosts 14-9 to cut into a Tiger lead and make it 32-30 heading into the final quarter.
Because of some turnovers, Falls eventually took the lead in the fourth, defense helped Twinsburg weather the 10-5 Falls spurt and stay afloat.
Head coach Phil Schmook also saw his youthful club pour in 22 points in the fourth stanza and hold onto the win to push Twinsburg's league mark to 2-5.
Twinsburg, which held Falls to just seven points in the final 4:00 of the game, raised its overall record to 3-9, prior to the Jan. 24 non-league game against Copley (results were not available at press time).
It was a big win for the Tigers, who had just suffered a heartbreaking loss on a last-second shot in a non-conference 55-53 defeat to Barberton (8-5).
"We're playing well and getting better each day," noted Schmook. "We missed some open shots early and then defense kept us in the game. We had some big defensive stops."
"We finished it out and finished the game -- something we did not do at Barberton," he added.
In the win over Falls, Twinsburg had a solid balanced attack on offense, led by senior Mike Cusma.
An undersized 5-11 swingman who is active, Cusma has had his shooting improve this winter and he is finding ways to score. He pumped in a game-high 18 points.
"Cusma has done a really nice job for us with his scoring, which is something we have struggled with at times," noted Schmook, who used Cusma in the middle against the Falls 1-2-2 zone.
Despite being held to just four field goals, junior wing Michael Moore netted 13 points. He canned a trio of 3-pointers in the win.
Senior forward-guard Vince Paolucci had a strong overall game with seven points as he helped battle a bigger Falls frontline.
Young talents like sophomore guard Ryan Felberg (two triples) and freshman wing Kenny McElrath (eight points) also contributed while junior post Stefon Scott helped on the glass with seven rebounds and had a hoop.
"Stefon Scott was an important guy for us on the boards," explained Schmook, who got huge back-to-back triples in the fourth stanza by Moore and Felberg.
Center Troy Tofil led Falls (6-7, 2-5) with 12 points. Twinsburg also won the junior varsity test, 41-39.
The Tigers have home league tests against North Royalton (Jan. 27) and Brecksville (Jan. 31).
Moore drilled three treys and had 17 points in the loss at Barberton Jan. 17.
However, Garrett Turnbaugh had a tip-in at the buzzer for the Magics as the shocking last-second bucket dashed Twinsburg's upset bid.
Twinsburg squandered a 4-point lead with 1:00 left with four straight turnovers.
Cusma put in 12 points while Scott excelled with seven points.
"We let one get away, but we still demonstrate that we are a true team with 13-14 guys contributing each game," said the coach.
Paolucci chipped in five points and junior wing Darrell Newsom had four. Adding two points each was junior Leroy Fitzgerald, junior Chris Fox, sophomore Ralph Campbell, and freshman Josh Wonton.
"Moore is getting back into a groove and Vince (Paolucci) has been critical for us with his post defense," noted Schmook, who has a third senior in first year forward Chris Wilder.
Barberton was led by Jordan Soyars (17), Zane Ries (16), and Ray Shamburger (14).