Twinsburg’s promising boys basketball team got its feet wet in the season opening 68-43 non-league victory over Orange at the Great Lakes Classic Friday at Cleveland Heights.
Head coach Phil Schmook had no complaints after the opening win and is eager to move forward and improve.
Coming off its finest win total since 2009, Twinsburg played sound defense and created some turnovers against a young Orange squad in the opener.
Twinsburg was one of 28 area teams that played in the three-day Great Lakes Classic.
"It was a nice opener for us," Schmook said. "We played hard throughout the game and it was good to see the guys have really balanced scoring."
"I think if it was the 10th or 11th game of the year, we may not have won — we need to improve on scoring in the transition game, but this was a good opener," emphasized the coach.
Twinsburg left some points off the scoreboard with some streaky shooting, but its man defense limited Orange, which was held to 19 first-half points and just 14 total field goals.
Fueled by man full-court pressure, the stingy Tiger defense led to a 23-7 first quarter surge and a 33-19 lead at the half.
Twinsburg didn’t rest on its laurels in the second half as strong defense and timely buckets led to an 18-8 surge in the third quarter to push the lead to 51-27 going into the fourth stanza.
"It was nice to use 15 guys in the game and many of those kids played in their first varsity game for Twinsburg," noted the coach.
Strong balance saw seven players score five or more points for the Tigers (1-0).
Senior guards Ryan Felberg and Jared Young scored well for the Tigers as did veteran starting junior guard Kenny McElrath, who excelled on both ends.
Pacing the balanced attack was Young, McElrath and first-year junior Mike Simpson. They each had 10 points.
Young buried two three-point bombs while McElrath also shined on the defensive end along with Felberg, who popped in nine points. Young’s overall game has improved.
Senior forward-guard Ralph Campbell also added nine points and snagged seven rebounds.
"Our defense was good as Felberg and McElrath did a great job in leading our defense, and pressuring the entire length of the court," stressed Schmook.
Schmook was pleased with Campbell’s inside work along with the 6-foot-5 Simpson, a transfer from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. Simpson had five boards.
"Simpson did a nice job for us in his first game, and he went to the boards, which was good," said the coach.
The game also marked career highs for 6-2 sophomore forward-guard Dante’ Yarbrough (eight points) and junior guard Joe Plantner (five points). Plantner hit one triple as did Felberg and McElrath.
In addition, first-year sophomore guard Trevell Williams also had three points while freshman Jojo James added a free throw.
Twinsburg had a 38-29 edge on the glass, but was only 5-of-23 from beyond the 3-point arc.
"For the most part, we played unselfish ball, but we need to do a better job in transition and pick up our 3-point shooting," noted Schmook. "We really struggled from the 3-point arc."
The Lions (0-2), who were 8-15 last year, were led by guard Harrison Pyner (14 points), point guard Scott Minor (11) and wing Jace Jacops (nine). Twinsburg also played at Chagrin Falls Dec. 4, but final results weren’t available at press time.
The Tigers have the league and home opener against Cuyahoga Falls Friday at 7:30 p.m. The locals play a league game at North Royalton Dec. 11 (7 p.m.), and host Brecksville Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m.