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Tiger boys fall in overtime in regular season finale

By MICHAEL LEONARD Sports Editor Published: March 1, 2017 12:00 AM
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CUYAHOGA FALLS -- Cuyahoga Falls and Twinsburg boys basketball have played some wild games over the years.

However, the Battle of the Tigers that took place Feb. 24 at Coach Tom Jones Court could stand up to any of them.

On Senior Night for Falls, reserve senior Nick Sigferth's putback layup with 15 seconds left in overtime proved the difference, as the Black Tigers pulled out a 48-44 win in overtime to close out the regular season.

Falls finished the regular season on a three-game win streak, as the Black Tigers take a record of 10-12, 4-10 in the Suburban League National Conference into the postseason.

Twinsburg finished the regular season at 6-16, 4-10 in the National Conference.

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Falls coach Kenny Johnson lauded his team for sticking with it during an emotional, intense affair.

"[Twinsburg] hit shots when they needed to," Johnson said. "If we hit our free throws, it doesn't come to that. I'm so proud of our guys, though. It feels great to get a win on Senior Night."

Twinsburg coach Phil Schmook was still emotional after the loss.

"I don't question how hard we played tonight," Schmook said. "We didn't always play smart and we didn't always execute. We played a decent amount of guys tonight. For us to be successful, everyone has to execute, from coaches to players."

Siegferth, center Troy Tofil and guards Ka'Von Gainer and Nate Vassalotti were honored before the game by Falls. The senior quartet accounted for all but 12 of Falls' points on the night.

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Neither team was lighting up the scoreboard early in the contest.

Twinsburg took a 12-9 lead after one quarter, thanks to three-pointers from guards Michael Moore and Mike Cusma.

The two teams then combined for just three field goals in the second quarter. Twinsburg took a 17-15 lead into the half.

Although Tofil finished with another double-double --12 points and 16 rebounds -- before fouling out in overtime, Johnson bemoaned the fact his team did not get the ball to its center enough, particularly in the first half.

Johnson noted the fact forward Dion Davis was saddled with foul trouble for most of the contest, which shut down much of Falls' high-low post game.

Knowing his team was outsized, Schmook still wasn't happy with his offense, particularly on the boards.

"No. 1, you can't throw the ball to the other team. That cuts down on turnovers," Schmook said. "No. 2, you have to box out. They even won the game on a missed boxed out."

Johnson's call to feed the post resonated in the third quarter, as Tofil scored eight of his 12 points in the quarter, keying a 10-4 run to give Falls a 25-21 lead.

Falls maintained the momentum to end the third quarter, taking a 31-27 lead after three.

But the momentum swings didn't start in earnest until the fourth quarter.

After a layup by Falls guard Ja'Quan Campbell to start the fourth, Twinsburg found its range from distance, while Falls lost its free-throw touch.

The result was a 10-1 Twinsburg run, which gave the Tigers a 37-34 lead.

With Davis back in the game, Falls answered with an 8-0 run of its own, keyed by a pair of layups from Gainer.

Falls seemed to get things under control when Johnson called time-out with 1:06 left and Falls leads leading 42-37.

But it wasn't over.

First, Moore hit a 15-foot jumper, followed by a quick foul on Vassalotti, who split his free throws.

Then, Moore banked home a three-pointer to cut the lead to 43-42. Vassalotti was fouled and again, he split two free throws.

Not calling time-out, Twinsburg attacked with less than 15 seconds left. Despite a hand in his face, Twinsburg guard Leroy Fitzgerald hit a turnaround jumper from the baseline with four seconds left, tying the game at 44-44 and forcing Johnson to call time-out.

Campbell's three-point attempt at the buzzer was well wide, sending it to overtime.

After such a frenetic fourth quarter, Twinsburg chose to hold the ball in overtime. A two-minute possession ended with Moore getting fouled, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one situation.

"In overtime, we didn't make free throws," Schmook said.

Falls also was deliberate in its possession, but when Tofil's shot was off the mark, Siegferth hit the game-winning bucket off a backside rebound with about 15 seconds left.

Twinsburg again attacked down the floor. After missing its initial shot, Moore rebounded and was fouled with 2.9 seconds left.

However, Moore missed both free throws and Falls was awarded possession after a loose ball.

After Davis was fouled on the ensuing inbounds play, he nailed both free throws to ice the game.

Gainer led all scorers with 16 points, while Davis added eight. Moore was the only Twinsburg player in double figures with 13 points.

Twinsburg will host Aurora March 1 at 7 p.m. to open its playoff run.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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