Twinsburg boys basketball wins back-and-forth game with Cuyahoga Falls

Steve Batko

Basketball is a game of surges. Momentum can change in a hurry.

That’s what happened for Cuyahoga Falls in a boys’ test against league rival Twinsburg.

Demonstrating some resilience by overcoming a 14-2 Tiger run in the third period and a 10-point deficit against Twinsburg, host Falls responded in the final quarter.

When junior guard Jayden Hillier came off the bench and drilled a 3-point shot and then followed with a steal and a layup to slice the Twinsburg lead to five at 39-34 with 3:37 left in the game, Falls was right back in the game.

It took just a few seconds for Hillier and the Black Tigers get back into it.

It took just 60 ticks for Twinsburg to negate that Falls push with a huge 8-0 spurt.

In fact, Twinsburg ended the game with a monstrous 13-0 run to post a 52-34 win in Suburban League National Conference action Tuesday.

“We closed the gap in the fourth as Jayden scored some big points, but they (Twinsburg) hit back-to-back three-pointers, which was a big backbreaker,” said Black Tiger head coach Todd Taylor.

This is a Twinsburg club that had 16 wins in 2019 with an upper division finish in the SL, and a fourth seed in the rugged Copley Division I sectional-district tournament.

After Hillier’s layup, Twinsburg’s David Coniglio buried a 3-pointer and just 24 ticks later, another sophomore guard off of the Tiger bench, Adam Williams, drilled another triple.

A Falls turnover then led to a layup 11 seconds later by Trevell Williams.

Suddenly, Twinsburg’s lead ballooned to 47-34 with 2:37 left and Falls never scored again.

“Turnovers really hurt us,” stressed Taylor. “We had 11 in the second half and that was really the ballgame. We only had like seven turnovers in the first half and that’s pretty good against a team like Twinsburg that can force a lot with their defensive pressure.”

Taylor was also quick to point out that a 3-for-16 shooting effort beyond the 3-point arc did not help matters.

Falls played exceptionally after Twinsburg (2-1 overall, 1-1 in the league) led 10-4 after the opening period.

Senior point guard Trinny Henderson flashed plenty on offense early on as he sped to 11 first half points.

Henderson converted a 3-pointer on the left elbow for a 10-4 Falls spurt that tied the game 14-14 with 3:42 left in the first half and then sank a pair of free throws to give Falls its first lead at 21-19 with 5.5 seconds left in the first half.

It was a first half that saw Twinsburg commit 10 turnovers as the Black Tigers had five steals as Taylor mixed defenses.

Taylor briefly used an effective 1-3-1 half court zone defense in the fourth period with freshman forward Tim Mitchell out on the top of the zone set, but it was Twinsburg that used defense to increase tempo in the third stanza.

Twinsburg dialed up its full court pressure and half court traps in the second half to force seven turnovers in the third quarter alone.

“I thought we mixed defense pretty well and while there are times that it doesn’t necessarily stop teams, but it also forces quick shots,” said Taylor. “We just didn’t take care of the ball.”

Coniglio (13 points) canned a deep 3-pointer, followed by a steal and layup by Reggie Bussey, and a bucket in the paint by P.J. Suggs capped a 14-2 Tiger run that made it 37-27 with 1:13 left in the third.

Falls was stymied in the second half and managed to make just four total field goals – two of those coming back-to-back by Hillier.

Henderson had just one bucket in the second half as he was double-teamed and finished with 13 points.

“Trinny had a very good second quarter (nine points), attacking the basket, and Twinsburg came out in the second half and face guarded him, and I did not respond to that as a coach,” said Taylor. “I should have made the adjustment.”

Senior guard Brennen Guerin added six points for Falls and senior guard Kyler Tepus had five. Tepus, who was held to just one field goal, grabbed six boards unofficially.

Taylor praised the work on the glass by senior post Zander Miller, who snagged seven rebounds and hit a 3-pointer.

The Black Tigers play a league affair at Brecksville Jan. 15 and meet Mogadore at the Spectrum Orthopedics Classic Jan. 16 at North Canton Hoover High at 10:30 a.m.

In the league opener, Falls lost 64-43 to defending league champ North Royalton Jan. 8.

Falls (0-3, 0-2) did register 27 points in the second half against the host Bears (6-2, 4-1).

“We got off to a slow start against North Royalton and as a result, it was an uphill battle the rest of the way,” said Taylor, whose club managed just 16 points in the first half.

Tepus led the Black Tigers with 12 points and six rebounds, Henderson had 11 points and dished out four assists, and Miller added six points.

On a positive note, Bears’ guard and defending league MVP Omar Abuhamdeh was limited to just 13 points by the Falls defense. Ethan Toppin poured in 20 points to lead North Royalton