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Tiger girls roar into district semifinals

By STEVE BATKO Correspondent Published: March 1, 2017 12:00 AM
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Twinsburg's girls basketball team advanced to the district semifinals with a 61-21 win over Cleveland John Hay in the Euclid Division I sectional championship game.

Fighting some mental mistakes and too many unforced turnovers -- 15 of the 24 turnovers came in the first half -- second seed Twinsburg advanced past eighth-seeded Hay (17-6) with a big 40-point win at home Feb. 23.

"Our focus has been a ton better on the court lately and after the first few minutes, we got much better," said head coach Julie Solis.

Solis called an early timeout and gave her troops an early tongue lashing that set the tone.

The Lady Tigers, 19-5, was set to meet fourth-seeded Shaker Heights in the district semifinals Feb. 27 at Euclid, but results weren't available as press time.

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If victorious, Twinsburg face the winner of top-seeded Solon (21-2) and sixth-seeded Aurora (18-6) March 2 at 7 p.m. at Euclid.

"Our team focus is one game at a time," said Solis.

Playing without forward Jamir Huston, Shaker lost by 13 points to Twinsburg in early February.

"This is a match up we have to be ready for," said Solis, prior to the clash.

"I do know that we can't miss free throws and like we have been doing and the unforced turnovers need to stop," stressed Solis, after the win over John Hay. "Those turnovers will bite us down the road."

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In the final state poll, Solon was ranked seventh and is led by 6-2 shot-blocking center Valencia Myers, lead guard and the program's all-time leading scorer Dee Bekelja, and 5-11 forward Alexis Stover, who is headed to Ohio University.

A deep Solon backcourt includes more talent in Gabby Mitchell and Mariah Modkins. Myers has Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio State, Rutgers, and UCLA on the radar.

Early in the year, Solon beat Twinsburg by 22 on its own court, but the Tigers had a sizeable lead early on.

Twinsburg forced 31 turnovers against Hay and we never challenged, but it was not always pretty.

Even though it was 37-10 at the half, Twinsburg had some struggles with a rare 5-second call on an inbound play, poor box outs on the boards, and unforced errors.

When John Hay's Laurene Tere, who earned honorable mention All-District honors as a freshman, scored her first points of the game on two free throws with 2:47 left in the first period, Twinsburg was up 11-4.

At that point in the game, Twinsburg had more turnovers (6-to-5) than the Hornets.

With five ticks left in the first stanza, the 5-foot-5 Tere made her first hoop on a runner.

Twinsburg senior Jasmine Bishop buried a deep 3-pointer off a feed from senior Shaundrea Butler to push the Tiger lead to 22-8 with 7:40 left in the half. From that point on, Twinsburg had a 15-2 run.

Senior forward Dasja Anderson was outstanding for the Tigers as the 5-foot-10 versatile post came to play.

Anderson netted 15 points and helped with the defense down low. She canned 8-of-11 shots at the charity stripe.

"Dasja is an undersized post who can do some different things and she has to play hard," noted Solis. "She did a great job."

"Sometimes we miss her (Anderson) and don't get her touches down low, but she has worked hard to get through that frustration," added the coach.

Point guard Jailyn Reid forced the tempo and played well as the senior popped in 11 points as did sophomore guard Nya Bussey, who also had three steals and played strong defense.

Bishop contributed 10 points, eight rebounds, and six thefts.

Butler added five points, dished out three assists, and had two steals. Junior forward Trinity Carthen had four points and five boards.

"Efficiency is they key on offense and we need to pay attention to details on both ends," said Solis.

Junior post Brittany Jolly added three points and three steals, freshman Alana Ellis added two points and four thefts, and sophomore Brittany Williams added three rebounds.

In the final game on the Tiger court, senior Cydney Washington played hard off the bench for the Lady Tigers, who were 15-of-29 at the free throw line.

Tere was held to 10 points, five boards, three steals and one assist. Center Angel Cannon, who also made honorable mention All-District, was held to two points, eight rebounds, and one block.

Shaker (12-11) is a club that returned four starters, including Huston from an 11-12 squad last winter.

In the first meeting against Shaker Heights, Bishop (24 points) and Anderson (15) teamed for 39 points.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

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