After a valuable weekend team road trip near Toledo, Phil Schmook admits his Twinsburg boys basketball team has had some missed opportunities in the early season, but the Tigers are just a few bounces from having a 7-1 mark.
Competing at the annual Oregon Clay Eagle Holiday Classic, the Tigers went 1-1.
“The guys are playing well, but each game will be a dogfight this year as this club has a lot of player combinations we can use, and I think it takes some time to build and find that right chemistry,” Schmook said.
Twinsburg opened play with a 51-47 overtime loss to Toledo Bowsher (4-5) Friday.
In the consolation game Saturday, the Tigers posted an impressive 54-36 victory over Sandusky Perkins (2-7). Oregon Clay won 49-42 over Bowsher in the title clash.
“We are continuing to defend at a very high level and that is allowing us to stay in games and be competitive at times when we are not shooting well or taking care of the ball,” noted Schmook.
Against Perkins, the Tigers took care of the ball and also converted some shots – two things, along with hitting shots at the free throw line, that Twinsburg has struggled with this year.
“We are coming along and if we had taken care of the ball, hit shots and free throws, we could be 7-1 right now, but the guys are still working hard,” Schmook pointed out.
Twinsburg (4-4) has a non-league road clash at Youngstown East Friday.
Coming into this year, only two senior starters were back for the Tigers in guard Ken McElrath and post Ethan Golnick.
An honorable mention All-NEO District in Division I choice last winter, the 6-foot-2 McElrath can be used as a wing, play point guard, or he can defend in the post as well.
McElrath netted 14 points in the loss to Bowsher and had 11 against Perkins.
“Ken played extremely well all weekend and provides great leadership,” said Schmook.
Senior guard Josh Wanton is also back as is senior guard Joe Plantner.
A pair of lettermen who have big roles are sophomore forward-guard Anthony McCarthy and junior forward Dante’ Yarbrough.
Trevell Williams is a junior guard who is healthy and contributing.
Speedy sophomore guard Reggie Bussey is a developing player who can handle the rock as well.
Twinsburg shot well against Perkins and led by 11 at the half and survived a run by the Pirates that cut the lead to six in the third period.
Yarbrough put in 11 points against Perkins and helped on the glass, plus hit a key 3-pointer.
“Yarbrough played very well and helped us with his shooting,” said Schmook.
In the loss to Bowsher, Twinsburg had some costly turnovers and missed free throws down the stretch and in the OT session.
Other seniors on the roster are forwards Chase Matlock and Kyle Apple.
Matlock and Apple were JV players last year along with juniors PJ Suggs, Roman Sims, Kaden Kimmel, and Chris Dillingham. Connor Harris is a newcomer and a junior guard.
Sophomore Joseph James has good potential as the 6-6 forward played JV last year and saw limited varsity play.
Twinsburg is 3-2 in the Suburban League National Conference and returns to action Jan. 7 in a tough road battle at Wadsworth. The Tigers host Hudson Jan. 10.