Cuyahoga Falls showed that they could play with powerful Twinsburg in the girls basketball league opener on the road.
Despite host Twinsburg holding onto a 53-40 victory last Saturday in Suburban League National Conference action, the Black Tigers scored big positives against one of the finest programs in the league and in the area.
More than a just moral victory, the outing could fuel more success for Falls, and showed what the Tigers can do against strong clubs.
Twinsburg won 20 games last year and led Solon in the district championship game as the Tigers went 13-1 to share first-place with Stow-Munroe Falls in the loaded Suburban League National.
The Black Tigers took some momentum from the game into a home contest Wednesday with Brecksville-Broadview Heights. Falls blitzed the Bees and won 53-30.
Falls record stands at 3-1, 1-1 in the National Conference.
Falls actually led early on with strong defense and offensive efforts versus Twinsburg.
In fact, the Black Tigers were 13-7 in a spirited first quarter.
While Twinsburg outscored Falls 30-16 in the next two quarters to take control and win, the Lady Black Tigers were impressive.
"We definitely had the start we were looking for in the first quarter and even for the rest of the first half (down 23-21), and defense was great," said head coach Joe Nowak.
"The girls played with composure and did a good job handling Twinsburg's pressure while getting good offensive looks," he added. "We got decent shots against their defense."
Twinsburg created more turnovers in the second half and hit the boards as well.
"They (the Tigers) did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do on offense," noted Nowak. "Twinsburg is one of the most athletic teams in the league. We just had too many turnovers."
Trinity Carthen excelled with 16 points for Twinsburg while standout junior guard Nya Bussey netted 14 points.
Carthen also converted six shots at the free throw line as Twinsburg made 16 free throws. Bussey also made six shots at the charity stripe and Kyndall Hill (10 points) had four. Alana Ellis had nine points.
"I think we handled their full-court pressure fairly well," said Nowak. "It was frustrating because we put ourselves in a position to win,"
"We played with aggressiveness and I think what is good about this game is that the mistakes we made are correctable," he added.
"Our girls also have a better understanding of their (Twinsburg's) pressure and that (understanding) will also help us against other strong teams this season," explained Nowak.
Sophomore guard Chelsea Huffman had a strong game for Falls with 16 points on six buckets and four free throws.
The 5-foot-10 Huffman, who can play forward as well, also handled the ball and blocked two shots.
"Chelsea continues to do a lot of things for us," said Nowak. "We also ask her to guard strong perimeter players. She is just a sophomore and it's very exciting to see her play well."
Huffman's sister Kayla Huffman, a 5-11 senior forward-guard, had a strong all-around game.
Kayla Huffman was held to just three field goals, but had 13 points as she hit seven free throws. She also snagged seven rebounds and dished out three assists.
Senior forward Madi Davis also sparked Falls off the bench as the 6-footer added four points and three rebounds.
"Madi has been fun to watch — she has had a strong start this season with more confidence," said the coach.
Guard Anna Steiner has been playing well as the senior had two points along with senior guard Leslie Sawyer, and senior forward Hannah Merten.
Sophomore post Olivia Lemmon grabbed four caroms while junior forward Alivia Hameric added a free throw at Twinsburg.
In addition, junior point guard Kelsey Mayes is back from an injury and should bolster the backcourt and help with ball handling chores.
The Black Tigers were set for another challenge when they host Wadsworth Saturday.
Falls plays a league battle at Hudson next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and host Nordonia next Saturday at 2:30 p.m.