TWINSBURG — It took nearly six minutes for the Stow-Munroe Falls boys basketball team to score its first point of the fourth quarter.
It took even longer for the Bulldogs to get their field goal.
None of these issues mattered in the end, though. That’s because the Bulldogs picked up two crucial conference victories on the road.
Back-to-back, no less.
Host Stow improved to 2-4 overall and 2-2 in the Suburban League National Conference after earning a gritty 38-35 victory over host Twinsburg Saturday.
The Bulldogs also posted a 50-48 win over host Wadsworth Friday.
"I was proud of the kids," longtime Stow head coach Dave Close said. "Twinsburg played a great second half. We didn’t completely melt down. We kept fighting. Twinsburg kind of took us out of our offense. Two weeks ago, we would have panicked and taken a bunch of bad shots. [Saturday], we kept the ball, we kept some poise and managed to get some good shots."
The Bulldogs’ opponent didn’t have much time to rest either.
The host Tigers also suffered a 44-43 defeat to conference rival North Royalton Friday.
On Saturday, Twinsburg made just 6-of-17 foul shots. The Tigers (2-3, 2-2) also scored just four points in the second quarter as Stow took a 24-15 lead.
The Bulldogs built an 11-point advantage (33-22) heading into the final eight minutes. And that’s when things started coming apart for Stow.
Thanks to the Tigers’ vaunted pressure, the Bulldogs committed five turnovers in the final period.
As a result of Stow’s sticky fingers, Twinsburg went on a 13-0 run to take a 35-33 lead. Junior wing Kaden Kimmel’s 3-pointer from the left corner concluded the spurt.
In fact, the Bulldogs didn’t score their first point of the quarter until sophomore center Van Shyjka split a pair of free throws with 2 minutes, 5 seconds left.
"They got at us defensively," Close said. "We had some turnovers that were disappointing. The kind of turnovers we had are stuff that we have worked on.
"Every time in practice, if we throw a pass and a guy doesn’t meet him, I stop practice. You have to meet every pass. That all happened at the beginning of the fourth quarter when they started making their run. All of a sudden, we throw a couple of pick-sixes and they get all the momentum. The whole game shifted off three turnovers."
The Bulldogs didn’t get their first field goal of the period until junior point guard Cale Marconi drained a floater.
That turned out to be the difference.
Marconi’s basket gave Stow a 36-35 lead. The Bulldogs added another bucket when junior guard Jack Bryden scored a layup off an assist from sophomore guard Deon Horn.
Stow was able to take advantage of these opportunities, thanks to some crucial misses by the Tigers down the stretch.
Horn led the Bulldogs with nine points. Junior post player Roman Sims, who gave Twinsburg a spark with some quality minutes in the fourth period, scored a team-high seven points.
Stow also had some bench players contribute late and also when some of its starters got in foul trouble in the first half.
"[Senior forward] Carter Kline did yeoman’s work in there," Close said. "He was physical in the post and got some rebounds in the post. [Sophomore forward] Marvin [Campbell] got in there and did some good things for us defensively."
The Bulldogs have shown some progress in recent weeks after a difficult start. However, Stow is nowhere close to being a finished product.
"We are what we are," Close said. "At this stage of the season, we haven’t had a chance to prepare for a lot of different-situation things and we need to do that. We have so many games and all of our practice time has been geared to game preparation and not fundamental work.
"We’re going to grow; we’re going to get better. Every time we go up against situations like this, the kids learn."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.