TWINSBURG — They’ve had a stranglehold on a neighboring rival for more than a decade.
And they take “Pride” in doing so.
Just ask a certain soft-spoken sophomore on the Twinsburg girls basketball team.
She happens to have the appropriate last name too.
“We look forward to playing them every year,” sophomore guard/forward Logan Pride said.
So who are these unfortunate souls that Pride enjoys tormenting so much?
They are the snakebitten Explorers, who make their home in Hudson.
To the delight of the precocious teenager, it may only get worse for the Tigers’ favorite little sisters.
That’s because a certain “proud” young lady will get to perform her magic on Ravenna Road for two more seasons.
Unfortunately for the Explorers, this kind of sinister magic act is nothing new.
Hudson has already experienced the “Eye of the Tiger” for more than a decade. This particular script, on the other hand, isn’t what Sylvester Stallone had in mind for his timeless masterpiece.
In fact, the Explorers may want to take Rocky Balboa’s advice whenever they butt heads with Pride and Co. in the future.
“How ’bout I stay here and you fight?”
Thanks to Pride’s all-around performance, host Twinsburg continued its mastery over Hudson with a 52-43 victory on Wednesday.
Pride finished with 22 points, six rebounds and five steals to lead the Tigers, who also defeated the Explorers 48-45 earlier in the season.
Like the Italian Stallion, Pride and her mostly younger teammates have been through some tough times during the winter.
The win over Hudson was just Twinsburg’s seventh victory of the season. Such an unimpressive résumé means nothing when the Explorers come to town, though.
Let’s just say the Tigers might seem more like the ferocious Clubber Lang instead of a certain everyman from Philadelphia.
Mickey Goldmill might agree. Thus, the longtime trainer’s harsh words to his aging warrior could have been spoken to Hudson’s players, as well.
“You can’t win, Rock!”
That cruel message is just fine with Twinsburg’s latest phenom. Like the imposing southpaw from Chicago, Pride has no problem predicting more “pain” for a group of young ladies who are partial to navy blue and white colors.
“We want to keep our streak alive,” Pride said.
Speaking of streaks, Pride has quite an impressive one in her own right.
She has been filling up the cup throughout the winter and her effort against the Explorers may have been her most complete performance of the season.
“She’s a really hard worker,” Tigers head coach Jessica Rader said. “She really wants to improve so she asks a lot of questions. She works to improve her game a lot. While she scores a lot, she provides a lot of her spark with her defense and rebounding.”
Pride certainly enjoyed putting up a rather large number of points against Hudson. However, the tireless sophomore prefers a strategy that involves taking rather than receiving.
“I always want to learn how I can do something better or how it could fix my mistakes,” Pride said. “I learned to take my time on offense. Even if my offensive game is not working, I can play hard defense.”
Pride had three of her steals in the first half. Her two free throws with 70 seconds remaining in the third quarter gave the Tigers a 39-38 lead.
Appropriately enough, Twinsburg didn’t relinquish its advantage the rest of the way.
“She had this one coming,” Rader said. “She has been getting close to 20 and has had some good games. I’m happy for her. She’s a great kid.”
The Tigers got devastating news when their franchise player, Alana Ellis, suffered a career-ending injury earlier in the season.
While no one can replace the extremely gifted Ellis, Twinsburg has been and will continue to be in good hands, thanks to its highly motivated defensive stalwart.
And this may be just the beginning.
That’s very bad news for future opponents, especially for a certain group of young ladies who call Hudson Aurora Road their second home.
As for Pride, she may follow the path of Violette Szabo, who was featured in a certain 1958 British film about the horrors of World War II.
In other words, this highly touted teenage Special Operations Executive will continue to “Carve Her Name with Pride” before she leaves town for good.
For now, though, Pride plans to enjoy her stay at Twinsburg’s version of Buckingham Palace.
“I love playing for this team,” Pride said. “It teaches me life skills. I feel like I do better each night.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.