It didn’t help that the Cuyahoga Falls girls basketball team was without two athletic starters when they hosted speedy Twinsburg.
Red-hot perimeter shooting and that speed saw Twinsburg win 61-37 over the Black Tigers in the Suburban League National Conference opener at Cuyahoga Falls last Saturday
Missing two starters in junior wing Raygan Corrigall and sophomore Emma Brustoski, Falls struggled against the Tigers’ quickness on defense. The Black Tigers had 23 turnovers.
"Missing those two girls hurt obviously because we were not at full strength," said Falls head coach Joe Nowak.
However, Nowak didn’t want to make excuses.
"Our effort was where it needed to be in the second half and against and athletic team like Twinsburg, you have to have that effort for four full quarters," Nowak said.
Corrigall is out with a foot injury and the speedy Brustoski has been plagued by a hamstring issue.
Nowak hopes to get the pair back soon, but against Twinsburg he started out with a 1-2-2 half court zone with freshman guard Jenna Roberts at the point, out on top.
Falls used the 1-2-2 to test the Tigers’ outside shooting and Twinsburg passed with flying colors with Alana Ellis and Jada Austin, who buried three treys, had 14 points and four steals.
"We didn’t prepare for that zone because they (the Tigers) had never shown it, but that was great to see how we adjusted so well to it," said Twinsburg head coach Jess Mazanetz, who had her first game replacing Julie Solis (319-106, three state final berths, and two state crowns).
Meanwhile, there wasn’t much that worked on Twinsburg’s Ellis, who was a special mention All-District 6-0 wing last year.
Ellis poured in 25 points and also grabbed eight boards, had four steals, two assists and one block. She also showed her improvement on defense as she limited standout Falls guard Chelsea Huffman to just four field goals.
The 5-10 Huffman, who ended with 19 points, six rebounds, four steals, two assists and one block, is a junior who already has 567 career points.
"We wanted them [the Tigers] to shoot jump shots and they did shoot extremely well," said Nowak, who was pleased with a solid second half.
Converting a nice reverse layup, Kyndall Hill gave Twinsburg a 37-13 lead with 5:40 left in the third quarter.
From that point on Falls played even at 24-24.
"We just didn’t get shots to fall and I think we had some good ones early on," said the mentor. "The girls need to answer runs by good teams. Chelsea has had two great games to start and that was good to see."
Junior point guard Kayla Ramirez battled the Twinsburg pressure all night and showed some fiery and unselfish play.
Having all of her eight points come in the second half, Ramirez also dished out two assists, had two boards and a 3-pointer.
"Kayla gives us so much energy and I think the other kids feed off of that," Nowak explained.
Roberts chipped in with four points and five rebounds while senior forward Alivia Hamric added two points, four caroms, and two thefts.
Center Olivia Lemmon had four rebounds and a free throw as the junior fouled out.
Freshman Laila Smith buried a 3-pointer — the first of her career. Falls was only 14 of 31 at the free throw line.