TWINSBURG — The two teams have had an intense rivalry since both of them make their home near Route 82.
However, Aurora head boys basketball coach T.J. Henderson has nothing but fondness for a certain man who happens to be Twinsburg’s head man.
That would be longtime head coach Phil Schmook.
"He has been sort of the guy I reach out to since I’ve been here," Henderson said.
On Friday, the teacher still had a few tricks for the student. As a result, the Tigers got back on track in a big way.
Host Twinsburg earned a commanding 62-44 victory over the Greenmen in a Suburban League crossover showdown Saturday.
The Tigers (13-6), who saw National Conference title hopes teetering on the brink after a devastating 50-48 loss to Stow-Munroe Falls Friday, took control in the second half to put it away.
Twinsburg outscored Aurora 36-22 after halftime, including 16-8 in the final eight minutes.
"It was a good bounce-back win," Tigers head coach Phil Schmook said. "I didn’t think everything was equitable in the previous game."
Twinsburg dominated the second half, thanks to its overwhelming speed and athleticism. More importantly, the Tigers stymied Aurora, which suffered its 10th loss in its last 11 games, with their suffocating defense, which led to 16 Greenmen turnovers.
"In the second half, I think it was our defense that changed everything," Schmook said. "We trapped very well in the half court. We got some easy baskets through our defense and I think we hit some timely threes in the second half."
Twinsburg made Aurora’s star a complete nonfactor. Such a task has been just about impossible for everyone else.
Senior Ethan Hays, who has scored nearly 40 points twice this season, finished with just a modest seven points for the Greenmen.
"The coaching staff picks who we think is going to do the best job at being a disturbance for the other team," Schmook said. "We feel that we have some kids who can make it a disturbance.
"You don’t let him score, you stay on the floor. It’s motivation."
Despite the Tigers’ efforts to turn the contest into a 100-yard dash, Aurora stood toe-to-toe with its more talented opponents in the first 16 minutes.
Twinsburg’s struggles to hold onto the ball certainly didn’t hurt the Greenmen either. The Tigers, who led 10-2 early, committed 18 turnovers during the evening.
"We had some early breakdowns defensively when we went up 10-2," Schmook said.
Anthony McCarthy led Twinsburg with a game-high 20 points and Ken McElrath scored 15 points for the Tigers. Dante’ Yarbrough added 14 points for Twinsburg, which received the fourth seed at the Copley Division I sectional-district tournament. The Tigers are scheduled to host 13th-seeded Akron Kenmore-Garfield in a sectional semifinal contest Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.
"I’m just really proud of our kids," Schmook said. "Think about where this program was four years ago and look at where we are today. It’s our third season in a row that we’ve had a winning season.
"The kids play hard. The kids, for the most part, are unselfish and they’re coachable, which makes it a great place to coach at."
Johnathan Ugran led Aurora (4-13) with 11 points. Just two of those points took place after the first quarter.
Logan Keilin finished with 10 points and Gabe Elsway had nine points.
After the game, Henderson and his staff, which includes his father, Thomas Henderson, spent several minutes talking to Schmook.
Rumor has it that there were no shouting matches between the two sides.
"He was at Richmond Heights when I was playing," Henderson said of Schmook. "He coached when my dad was coaching. When I went to Maple [Heights] right after he left Maple, we talked a lot about certain things.
"We knew each other just through coaching. He’s always really honest, a great guy and one heck of a basketball coach."
Friday’s defeat, on the other hand, may have ended the Tigers’ hopes of capturing at least a share of the National Conference title.
Thanks to the Bulldogs’ win, North Royalton clinched no worse than a tie for the conference title. The Bears improved to 10-2 in the conference after scoring a convincing 57-41 victory over Wadsworth Friday.
Twinsburg, Hudson and Twinsburg are 8-4 in the conference with two games left for each team.
Stow (9-10, 7-5), which earned its fourth consecutive win, scored the game-winning basket with four seconds left.
After the Bulldogs used more than 30 seconds off the clock, the ball went to Van Shyjka. The 6-foot-4 sophomore center, who finished with a game-high 19 points, used a couple of pump fakes to convert a layup in traffic.
The Tigers had a 3-point attempt partially blocked and a reverse layup that fell short as time expired.
"We didn’t make shots," Schmook said. "We didn’t shoot well early on. What we’ll take from this is we got good contributions from two bench guys.
"Chris Dillingham came in and played point guard and really set our offense up. He made a difference in identifying who’s open, making a play. Kyle Apple gave us some solid minutes guarding the post."
Stow led by as many as 11 (35-24) when Jack Bryden drained a 3-pointer from the left side nearly three minutes into the second half.
However, Twinsburg came back to tie the game on two occasions. The last time was when Yarbrough converted a layup prior to Shyjka’s game-winner.
Yarbrough finished with 12 points. McElrath led the Tigers with a game-high 19 points. Owen Bainbridge added nine points for the Bulldogs.
"Dante’ Yarbough played very well," Schmook said. "Kenny McElrath played really well and Chris Dillingham played really well. We need contributions from 10 guys and we didn’t get that [Friday]."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_Gannett.