MACEDONIA — When Twinsburg and Nordonia boys basketball met in early December, it was the first meeting of Knights coach Dominique Sanders and his old mentor — Tigers coach Phil Schmook.
The Tigers proceeded to give Nordonia a lesson in hard defensive basketball in their first meeting.
Unfortunately for Sanders and Co., the rematch Friday night at Nordonia almost felt like a carbon copy of the two teams’ first game.
Twinsburg used a 15-3 run at the end of the first quarter to take command of the game and then threw a variety of defenses at the Knights, as the Tigers went on to a 47-35 win.
Twinsburg improved to 7-5, 5-3 in the Suburban League National Conference, while Nordonia dropped to 5-8, 3-5 in the conference.
Prior the game, Schmook lamented about his team’s lack of offensive punch. The Tigers still weren’t lighting it up, as they were led by seven points each from Ken McElrath and Joey Plantar, but Schmook noted his team did its job on the defensive side of the ball.
"I thought we defended very well tonight," Schmook said. "We held our own on the board and we’re giving up size to them.
"I know we left a lot of points out there tonight," Schmook added. "We must have had about 15 missed layups. But we didn’t put our heads down and did what we needed to do."
Schmook admitted he threw everything but the kitchen sink defensively at the Knights, switching from man-to-man to full-court press to half-court trap. The Tigers even played a 2-1-2 zone in the second half.
No matter what defense they faced, the Knights had problems, committing 23 turnovers on the night. It all added up to an unwelcome case of deja vu for Sanders.
"Our guard play has to step up," Sanders said. "We worked all week on dealing with their traps, dribbling out and reversing the ball. We didn’t do any of that well tonight. That’s how they go all those turnovers against a scrappy team.
"They didn’t do anything differently than the first game," Sanders said. "Physically, they just kicked our butts and we backed down from it."
After Nordonia took an early 5-3 lead, Twinsburg was able to get its best offensive spurt of the game.
A pair of 3-pointers from McElrath keyed the 15-3 run, as the Tigers also showed off their speed on several layups.
At the end of the first quarter, Twinsburg had an 18-8 lead. Nordonia never brought the lead below double digits for the rest of the game.
Nordonia only managed six points in the second quarter and four in the third quarter. What kept the Knights within shouting distance was some solid interior defense, as Nordonia had 11 blocked shots on the night.
Forward Robert Watson finished with six points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots for Nordonia, but Sanders lamented the fact his team could not turn that defense into offense.
"You have to be able to take advantage of situations like that," Sanders said.
A running layup by Plantner beat the third-quarter buzzer, making it 34-18 after there quarters.
Twinsburg led by as many as 40-22 before Schmook started to empty his bench. Nordonia’s offense didn’t get untracked until late in the fourth quarter.
In fact, the Kngihts had a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter, but the outcome of the contest was never in doubt.
Joel Jones led the Knights with seven points. Ethan Golnick added six points and eight rebounds for the Tigers.