A good non-league test against a young, athletic Youngstown East squad gave a developing Twinsburg boys basketball team a chance to mature even more.
Behind a superb defensive stretch, Twinsburg broke open a tight game early on with a 13-2 spurt to finish strong at the end of a 20-9 first quarter.
In a 70-60 road victory Friday that featured 60 free throw attempts as fouls mounted, the Tigers ran into a re-occurring problem – free throw shooting.
While the Golden Bears sank 9-of-12 charity tosses and exploded for 25 second period points, Twinsburg went just 4-of-11 from the stripe and was clinging onto a 37-34 lead at the half.
In all, the Tigers were 19-32 at the free throw line.
"We really controlled the game from the beginning," offered head coach Phil Schmook. "When we had a chance to extend the lead into the 20’s, we missed free throws and they (East) made them."
"The guys had an 18-point lead that was three at the half," added Schmook. "We need to continue to work on our shooting."
East (2-7) came back a second time to cut the lead to four in a streaky third stanza in which the Tigers missed more shots.
However, Twinsburg went on a 10-1 run behind its defense in the final 3:00. A 20-10 advantage gave the Tigers a 57-44 lead going into the final 8:00.
Holding the Golden Bears to under 40-percent shooting, Twinsburg (5-4) shot well from the field, shared the basketball with 18 assists, and rebounded well on the glass.
As usual, the Tigers got contributions from a slew of athletes.
"We played hard and pressured the ball at a high rate," explained Schmook. "I thought we had good balance and got contributions from a lot of kids."
Junior guard Trevell Williams was outstanding for Twinsburg as he put in 15 points, drilled two 3-point shots and was 5-of-6 at the free throw line.
"Trevell shot the ball well and he was one of the guys who did well at the line," noted Schmook.
Having a strong floor game, senior guard Ken McElrath contributed 12 points and dished out five assists.
Senior post Ethan Golnick also stood out as the 6-foot-5 veteran netted 11 points, snagged seven rebounds, and was 3-4 at the line.
"Ethan was our leader on the glass, but we did a good job as a team on the boards," Schmook said. "Ethan always plays hard and puts forth the effort."
Two other veterans also produced in the win – senior guards Josh Wanton (nine points) and Joe Plantner (seven).
"We’re getting contributions from a lot of people, and this is a basketball team that has a lot of parts and pieces," emphasized Schmook.
Help in the paint also came from sophomore Anthony McCarthy, juniors Dante’ Yarbrough and P.J. Suggs, and sophomore Jo Jo James. Senior Chase Matlock, junior Connor Harris, junior Roman Sims, and sophomore Reggie Bussey also contributed.
John Clay netted 10 of his team-high 15 points to lead East.
Twinsburg defended well against East’s only other returning starter from last year – Marquand Gilmer.
Gilmer, who played well at the recent Hudson Holiday Classic, was held to one field goal and seven points.
Guard Reuben Talley had nine points and dished out eight assists for the Golden Bears, who also got nine points from Ramere Bledsoe.
Twinsburg will host Hudson Friday and play at Nordonia Jan. 17.
Schmook is also looking forward to the Jan. 21 rivalry battle at Solon in a non-league matchup.