SOLON — If the Ohio High School Athletic Association considered making each round of the state tournament a seven-game series, fourth-year Twinsburg head boys basketball coach Phil Schmook would be all for it.
He just wishes that format would have been utilized this season, particularly against a certain opponent.
"I think if we played them again, we beat them," Schmook said. "I think if we play this game 10 times, we win five games."
That opponent was Shaker Heights, which happens to be the top seed in the Solon Division I sectional-district tournament.
Maybe the outcome would have been different if the Tigers got a second chance.
Unfortunately, all you get is one. And that "one" belonged to the Red Raiders.
Fourth-seeded Twinsburg’s stellar season came to an end after losing to Shaker 60-48 Wednesday at Solon High School.
With the loss, the Tigers finished 17-7 on the season. The Red Raiders improved to 15-9 and advanced to the Solon district title game.
Shaker led a large majority of the way and built its advantage to as much as 15 (29-14) late in the second quarter.
The Tigers cut their deficit to a deuce (31-29) in the third period. However, just when Twinsburg pulled some stuff out of its hat, the Red Raiders rediscovered their magic wands to crush the Tigers’ hopes.
Shaker’s top magician was muscular 6-foot-2 junior forward Dakota Cochran, who raised havoc with his brute strength inside. He also showed balletic footwork to attack off the dribble and score in traffic. Cochran finished with a game-high 22 points.
The Tigers, on the the other hand, couldn’t tickle the twine if their lives depended on it.
Despite having multiple in-rhythm, catch-and-shoot opportunities, Twinsburg’s perimeter attempts found more iron than nylon.
"The things that we do … we didn’t shoot the ball well; we didn’t rebound as well as we normally do," Schmook said. "Those are things that hurt us."
If there was some saving grace for Schmook, who led the Tigers to their second district appearance since he became the team’s head coach, it was this: Twinsburg executed a number of plays to perfection.
In the end, the shots just didn’t go through the nets.
"At least when it came to our go-to guys, the ball was in their hands and they had those opportunities," Schmook said. "I’m proud as heck to lose with those kids."
Freshman guard Danny Young Jr. contributed 10 points for the Red Raiders, who iced the game by basically renting a hotel at the charity stripe.
Shaker converted 10 of 16 foul shots in the final eight minutes.
Junior wing Ken McElrath led the Tigers with 16 points and 6-4 senior forward Ralph Campbell, who was the team’s leading man throughout the winter, added 11 points despite some foul trouble.
Other Twinsburg seniors included guard Jared Young, who scored eight points, wings Ryan Felberg and Mike Simpson and post Adam Mays.
The five elder statesmen certainly left a lasting impression during their four years.
"Great group of kids," Schmook said. "They’ve really come around not just basketball-wise. They’ve just grown as people and being able to be part of a team and caring."
Once the players made their way to the locker room for the final time, a group of proud young men could be seen with watery eyes and glum faces.
Such a sight left their head coach deeply moved.
"We weren’t talking," Schmook said. "They were just by themselves. It means a lot. They’re crushed because we put so much time and effort."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.