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Furious comeback falls just short for Tiger boys

By STEVE BATKO Correspondent Published: March 8, 2017 12:00 AM
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Twinsburg's boys basketball team responded after a sluggish start in first round sectional action at home.

Using a ferocious comeback, the Tigers erased a 24-point deficit to come down to one possession in a wild 56-54 first round loss to visiting Aurora March 1 in the Euclid Division I sectional tournament opener.

The seventh seeded Greenmen (8-16) built a huge 24-point lead, but had to fight off a huge comeback by sixth seed Twinsburg, which exploded for 28 points in the fourth quarter.

A driving layup by standout Aurora guard Gavin Blunt with 37 seconds left was the game winner. After three straight Twinsburg timeouts, the Tigers' shot on the elbow just touched the rim with two seconds left.

Head coach Phil Schmook called three timeouts in the final 28 seconds searching for the right play on offense in the middle of a hostile Greenman crowd.

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First with 28 ticks left, Schmook called for a 'normal' set on offense, but Aura defended well.

Then, he called for a back door cut with 19 seconds left. That didn't work.

Schmook called a timeout with 10 ticks left and ran a triple screen, and the Greenmen defended it and sophomore point guard Ryan Felberg was forced to put up a long perimeter shot that came up short.

"We ran three different sets and we didn't execute on the back door cut, but Aurora defended well,' explained the mentor.

A bucket by sophomore forward Ralphel Campbell tied up the game 54-54 with 59 seconds left after a miss by Aurora.

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Senior forward-guard Vince Paolucci sparked the Tiger faithful as he buried his third 3-pointer of the second half off of the bench.

A fired-up Paolucci had a trey with 2:37 left and buried another triple on a dish from junior Leroy Fitzgerald to make it 54-52 with 1:27 left, just after the Tigers forced a 5-second call on Aurora.

Twinsburg's full-court pressure, coupled with some spirited play by Paolucci, got the Tigers back into the game. Aurora had 23 turnovers after hold the flat Tigers to 8 first half points.

"You won't win too many games when you shoot 3-for twenty something like we did," said Schmook. "We missed some easy shots too."

Freshman wing Kenny McElrath had 14 of his 16 total points in the second half. McElrath had 4 steals and was 9-of-10 at the free throw line.

Paolucci added eight rebounds, two assists, and took a charge off the bench. Junior Michael Moore had nine points.

"We pressured better in the second half and I was proud of the effort," said Schmook. "Paolucci played well and has done a lot of positive things throughout the season."

Twinsburg had more help off the pines.

Fitzgerald, who had a gorgeous no-look feed on a transition hoop to senior Mike Cusma (four points) during the run, ended with six points, three assists, and two thefts.

Campbell added six points and two huge buckets in the spurt, along with six rebounds.

Senior forward Chris Wilder added a hoop as did junior Darrell Newsom. Junior Stefon Scott snagged four boards and played strong defense as did junior Chris Fox.

"I will really miss the seniors -- they were all quality kids,"said Schmook.

Blunt scored 20 points while Huffman scored 18 points to lead Aurora. Guard Cade Huffman had 15 in the first half, plus 5 boards and 2 assists.

Power forward James Robinson had 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks for the Greenmen while Alex Ely had 4 points and dished out 4 assists.

Other athletes who played this season for Twinsburg was junior Marcus Gibson, freshman Dayvon Adams, and freshman Josh Wanton.

"We have about 11 or 12 athletes that will have some experience, and it's a process for this program, and we will continue to work hard," said Schmook.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

Facebook: MLeonardRPC

Twitter:@MLeonard_RPC


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