In a game that had a little bit of everything, the Twinsburg boys basketball team was fueled by Senior Night to propel to a 75-50 league win over a scrappy Wadsworth club.
Exploding for 43 second half points, the Tigers posted the win to honor a strong senior class in the home finale Friday.
"It was a great opportunity to see the seniors do some great things," said head coach Phil Schmook.
"These guys have worked hard through the program and they have cared for each other, and it was great to reward all of them," Schmook added. "They are great kids and they played so unselfish."
Defense was a big part of it as Twinsburg held standout freshman guard Solomon Callaghan to just one hoop in the second half.
Seniors Joey Plantner and Chase Matlock, along with junior Dante’ Yarbrough, all defended Callaghan.
Matlock and senior post Kyle Apple (four points) both started as Schmook had an all-senior starting lineup that included guard Kenny McElrath, forward Ethan Golnick, and Plantner with guard Josh Wanton coming off the bench.
Using a deep bench, Twinsburg jumped out to a quick lead and when the 6-foot-5 Golnick converted an up and under move by the rim, it was 17-8 with 1:29 left in the first quarter.
Then McElrath drilled a three in the corner on a dish from Plantner as the buzzer sounded to make it 22-12.
Schmook mixed defenses with a trapping full court pressure and a half-court trap, but Wadsworth moved the ball around so well, the Grizzlies actually fought back into the game.
"I have to give Wadsworth credit – they moved the ball well and I think we played great defense, but at times, we may have guarded too close," explained the coach.
Despite a tough winter for Wadsworth (5-15), both Callaghan (11 points) and Stan Bingham (nine) are players who should garner some league recognition and the Tigers held the duo to just one bucket in the second half.
However, a triple by Owen Simmons off a feed by Bingham, capped a 10-2 run by Wadsworth to cut into the lead 24-22 with 4:17 left in the first half.
Twinsburg finished the first half with an 8-2 spurt and spilled into the second half.
A red-hot Plantner buried his second straight trey and followed by two free throws by McElrath, Twinsburg pushed its lead to 43-30 with 3:40 left in the third.
McElrath flew to the hoop and converted a 3-point play to extend the lead to 50-34 and after two charity tosses by Golnick, the cushion ballooned to 18 points.
With 6:00 left in the game, Callaghan finally scored his first point of the second half.
Golnick then put an exclamation point with a breakaway two-handed slam dunk to make it 61-41 with 4:38 left.
"Joey (Plantner) played good defense (on Callaghan), but all our guys played good defense," noted Schmook.
The Tigers, 14-6 overall, are 9-4 in the Suburban League National Conference while Wadsworth slid to 3-10. The league and regular season finale are set for Friday at Hudson (13-7, 9-4).
Plantner drilled five triples and dished out two assists to finish with a game-high 18 points.
Golnick scored 14 points and snagged eight rebounds.
"Our seniors did a great job and they looked out for each other, plus the underclassmen supported them as well," noted Schmook.
Matlock came out on fire as he netted seven points, including a three, three boards, and two steals.
McElrath had a strong floor game with 11 points, four boards, three feeds, and two thefts.
Junior wing P.J. Suggs sparked the Tigers with eight points off the bench while junior Trevell Williams added a triple and dished out three assists, sophomore Anthony McCarthy had four points and five boards, junior Connor Harris buried a three, and sophomore Reggie Bussey had two points and three assists.
Twinsburg gained the fourth seed at the Copley Division I sectional-district tournament.
The Tigers were fourth behind Medina, Walsh Jesuit and Akron Ellet.
Medina (16-4) can score in bunches and could be a favorite while Walsh (14-6) has played well against a good schedule. Ellet (15-7) has lost four in a row, including a double-digit loss to Wadsworth.
Fifth seed Barberton (13-7) is waiting in the second round as the Tigers host 13th seed Akron Kenmore-Garfield (4-17) Feb. 26 in first round action at 7 p.m.