A sluggish start on the road didn’t help the Twinsburg girls basketball squad upon the return of head coach Jessica Rader.
Twinsburg didn’t have an opportunity to fully utilize the energy of Rader’s return.
Part of that reason belongs to Strongsville.
Strongsville didn’t allow the Tigers to feed on that energy because of the hosts’ play in the 59-46 non-league loss Saturday.
Strong play on both ends enabled Strongsville to leap out to an 18-8 first quarter lead and a 33-20 cushion at halftime. The hosts never looked back.
"We did not start out strong and we were down at halftime, but the girls fought back in the second half," said Rader, who coached her first game of the winter as Russ Chappell guided the Tigers as an interim coach after her birth of her first child.
Using solid defense and some timely offense, Twinsburg fired back, playing even with Strongsville 26-26 in the second half.
In fact, the Lady Tigers sliced into a 16-point deficit and trimmed the lead to eight early in the fourth period.
"The girls cut their lead to eight starting the fourth quarter, but ran out of steam," said Rader.
Twinsburg (2-4) was without All-Ohio guard Alana Ellis and the backcourt and player rotation was further damaged when senior guard Faith Gregory fouled out with 4:00 left.
"I think we are obviously a little bit shorthanded with Alana's injury and Faith fouled out, and without a lot of guard depth, it was hard to sustain our comeback efforts," said Rader.
A young and talented unit, Strongsville (7-1) won its first district crown last winter since 2007.
Rader was thrilled with a career-game from sophomore guard-forward Logan Pride.
Pride, an athletic 5-foot-9 player, scored 19 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, had five steals, and blocked three shots.
A promising defensive player, Pride’s offensive game is developing and this outing was an eye opener.
Guard Jada Austin also shined as the Tiger’s lean on her experience in the backcourt.
Helping out on the glass, Austin snagged 12 rebounds in the loss to go with 15 points, two assists, and one block.
Another big game was turned in by senior post Alex Walker.
Walker snagged 13 rebounds for Twinsburg and three points, and had two thefts.
Reagan Bass paced Strongsville with 17 points. Bass, a 6-foot-1 power forward, was honorable mention All-Ohio last year.
Freshman guard Taylor Bass added 15 points and freshman point guard Mackenzie Shultz had nine points for the hosts.
It may be awhile before Ellis returns from a knee injury.
"Alana will likely rejoin the team in the next couple of weeks," remarked Rader. "She is rehabbing to build strength and will work her way back into the rotation slowly based on her doctor’s recommendation."
Twinsburg returns to rugged Suburban League National Conference action Saturday at home against Wadsworth. Tip-off is 2:30 p.m. The Tigers are 2-3 in the league.
"I am excited to be back and next Saturday’s game against Wadsworth will be a big one for us to see where we are in the conference," said Rader.
The Tigers host Eastlake North Jan. 6 in non-league play at 7 p.m.