Twinsburg is showing flashes of strong, consistent play as the girls’ basketball action heats up with a pair of cross-divisional games against booming schedules at Medina Highland and Cuyahoga Falls.
Marking the debut for first-year Tigers head coach Chris Esterak and his team, Twinsburg showed a lot of positives, especially on the defensive end.
The Tigers (0-2) lost 43-34 in the home opener against Highland on November 22.
Twinsburg’s defense had 15 interceptions and kept Highland just 17 points in the second half, but that wasn’t enough against a Highlands unit set to play well in the American Conference Suburban League this winter.
Esterak troops will open the Suburban League National Conference game on December 1 in Brecksville at 7 p.m. and host Stow-Munroe Falls on December 4 at 2:30 p.m.
Highland (3-0) could be a factor in the American Suburban League, where Cuyahoga Falls should be improved from the SLNC.
In Game 1 of the season, Twinsburg lost a close 52-43 league decision on Nov. 20 to an improved team from Cuyahoga Falls (2-1), who outscored the Tigers 18-8 in the second quarter.
The Hornets built a large lead early on against Twinsburg, but when Makayla Busicnki buried a 3-pointer on the left elbow, the Tigers took the lead 13-7.
Busicnki, a senior guard who plays much bigger than 5-5 and has great speed, had one of the best offensive outings of his career. This solid play spilled over into Busicnki’s defensive play and his assist on the boards.
Senior winger Logan Pride, who blocked three shots, converted a layup to make it 15-11 at 5:55 of the second quarter, but Highland responded.
Despite senior guard Victoria Hayes taking charge of a big defensive play for Twinsburg, Highland had a 9-2 run and was leading 26-15 at halftime when Delaney Lawson converted a turnover of Tiger in a lay-up.
Fueled by a layup and short jumper by junior post Sophie Adick, plus a pull-up jumper in the key and a transition layup by Busicnki, Twinsburg had a critical run of 11-1!
Adick and Busicnki helped the Tigers cut the deficit to just one point at 27-26 with 2:51 left in the third period. The defense and transition game helped the Lady Tigers!
âWe did a better job after executing our attack at half-time,â said Esterak. âWe were able to start running more on the ground. Defensively we did a good job forcing Highland off the 3 point line and forcing them to our defensive assist.
âMac (Busicnki) had a great game on both sides of the pitch,â said Esterak. “I think she will continue like this. Sophie Adick continues to grow as a goalscorer, which will help us tremendously.”
However, guard Maddie Miller pierced a 3-point pointer to bring the score to 30-26 and mark Highland’s first bucket of the entire second half with 2:03 to go.
Miller added two layups in a seven-point blast to take the lead to 34-26, heading into the final quarter.
Pride had a layup to break Hornet’s push with 7:45 remaining as it was 34-28, but a cold shooting spell and a series of turnovers from Twinsburg exploded in a Highlands 16-2 run for ensure victory.
Highland was led by Miller and forward Aleena Vankirk with nine points each. Miller also played a solid defense on Pride.
“We are still in the works and we had a few turnovers in the home stretch that we had to score on,” noted the coach, who also praised the restlessness of senior guards Maria Pontius, Hayes and Elliotte Schneeman.
“They (the Hornets) are a good team and had some key shots down the stretch,” Esterak said.
In the shock of the falls, Pride exploded for 24 points and versatile junior forward Genesis Carthen scored 13 as both athletes buried two points at 3 points each.
“Pride and Carthen continue to be keys for us,” said Esterak, who will have the services of Gabi Bonnizzio, an experienced senior manager, absent for personal reasons.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Twinsburg girls show flashes, but fall in first two games of the season