Twinsburg girls basketball's seniors reflect on tough season

Steve Batko
Correspondent

One might think Nighya Carthen, Jada Austin, and Christine Jiang had a disappointing senior campaign with Twinsburg girls basketball

The quick answer may be yes, but it goes much deeper than that.

There were no championship banners, no deep post season runs. Just a tough 2-12 season.

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That season ended Saturday with a 63-19 loss at Medina Saturday in Division I sectional opener.

It was a senior class who would have to “grow up” in a hurry.

This senior class has had a slew of coaches in their career and a new one this winter with first-year head coach Heath Savage.

The entire Tiger program, just like the other student-athletes in the district, had to take on a pandemic.

On the basketball court, Twinsburg had the stress of a young, new-look club and implementing a new system under Savage and his staff. The club had to take on an odd off-season and pre-season and then, a program pause.

It would have been a challenging winter in a perfect setting for the Tigers, who lacked varsity experience.

Then, the Tigers had an opportunity to play a ton of basketball in a short time. It was tough, but the coaches and kids in the program worked at it.

“We were playing catch up with a late start and then cramming 14 games into less than a month,” stressed the coach.

A 25-point loss did not matter – it was an opportunity for the girls to dress and play basketball, period.

It all came to an abrupt end Saturday as Twinsburg lost 63-19 in first round division I sectional tournament action to a loaded Medina squad.

The result was no surprise as the Tigers were seeded 34th and Medina (16-6), winners of seven straight games, was the fourth seed.

“It was tough for the seniors,” offered Savage.

“These girls I think did a really good job at communicating to the younger girls,” pointed out Savage. “The seniors had positive energy when it was tough and they made the most of it.”

Senior leadership mattered on and off the hardwoods.

To make matters worse in the sectional opener, youthful Twinsburg was without Austin, a standout four-year guard and leading scorer, who recently suffered a season-ending knee injury.

“We lost Jada and we had to rearrange things,” explained Savage. “We needed ball handlers and much of that fell on Logan Pride, who was a defensive leader, the top rebounder and our best scorer without Jada.”

“Now, Logan not only had to initiate our offense, but she was our primary ball handler against the full court press. She was your anchor in trapping on defense and now she has to do so many things. It was tough.”

For a while, Twinsburg showed some mettle early on.

The Tigers kept it at 6-2 for the first 5:00 of the game – showing tremendous patience on offense against a full court press and in the half court game against Medina’s trapping 1-2-2 half-court zone with 6-0 All-Ohio standout Sarah McKee, using her length at the point of that zone set.

Twinsburg demonstrated good ball movement early on as Pride and first-year junior starter Elliotte Schneeman did a great job of protecting their dribble against Medina’s strong on-ball defense and help defense off of the zone.

Then the bottom fell out and the Bees stormed ahead with 3-point bombs and forcing turnovers left and right.

“They (Medina) were a good team – they spread the floor and they were tall, long and they were fast,” noted Savage. “They spread the floor and shot so well.”

Pride had a strong game as she posted nine points, eight rebounds, two blocked shots and one assist as the game featured a running clock starting in the third quarter.

Savage also marveled over Pride’s sensational game in a recent 46-30 loss at Kent Roosevelt as the 5-foot-10 wing snagged a career high 19 rebounds, ran the offense and also scored a team-high 14 points.

“Logan has been tremendous, but all the girls learned a lot this season and it was more about the mental aspect,” said Savage.

“We are very young and the future is bright with a good middle school and youth program,” he noted. “I am excited about next year. Hopefully, it will be normal and we can have a spring.”