Given how deep and strong the men’s basketball field is in the Suburban League National Conference this winter, veteran head coach Phil Schmock has Twinsburg units competing within their own circle.
Twinsberg, who battled injuries, saw real competition pay off in his streak last weekend.
Having held the Aurora to just 22 points in the first half, the Tigers are on the road to beat the Green Men 59-49 on Saturday.
“Our players are ready to play and have had a very good practice,” explained Schmuck.
Twinsburg was put on a seven-day layoff after losing by three points to Wadsworth, and after a spectacular league run, the Tigers recorded a 57-43 SL National victory. Aurora victory.
The Tigers went 9-5 overall, holding Hudson to just six field goals throughout the second half.
“Our players have been playing really well lately and we’ve had three attacks (at Hudson),” the manager stressed. “Our defense was strong and we let our opponents make contested shots.”
“We have practiced a lot and worked hard, so long layoffs were no problem. Our staff realized that we had to beat our teammates in practice to get more minutes. I think they do,” Schmook pointed out. “It’s okay. It’s the best thing and all the kids get better.”
Both games featured great defensive efforts as the Aurora did not answer aggressively in the first half when Twinsburg had an 11-point lead.
With the win at Hudson, Twinsburg moved up to 2-5 in the SL Nationals. This league includes a number of clubs (Brexville, Stowe, Nordonia, Wadsworth) that could make a fuss in the postseason.
Twinsburg, North Royalton and Hudson are also teams capable of winning several tournaments.
After Hudson’s victory, Schmuck said, “It was a good win for the team and it’s not an easy night in this conference.”
In addition to a strong defense, Twinsburg has featured some outstanding rebounding on the Hudson and is a rotation player at 6’7″, 6’7″, 6’7″, 6’5″ and 6″4″. And it’s a great length with 4 other guys around 6ft 2.
Early in the season, Hudson beat Twinsburg 66–48 in the club’s first meeting in December. In that contest, Hudson rebounded Twinsburg he went 35-11.
This time Schmook saw his athletes battle it out on boards 30-20 and win.
Overall, Twinsburg had 15 offensive rebounds on the Hudson, including 11 in the first half when the Tigers recorded just one turnover.
“We’re too small and Hudson is so long. In the first game we were killed by the board,” Schmook said. “The guys really did a great job this time around, and offensively his hits on the grass were great.”
Relying on all-around senior point guard Adam Williams, Twinsburg persevered on offense using Williams’ dribble-piercing skills that allowed him to manipulate Williams on iso plays, clearouts and spaces.
As Williams started dribbling, the 6-foot-1 athlete drove into the paint to score or throw the ball to his teammates.
Williams poured 28 points into Hudson, made five feeds and had four rebounds. He averages about 16 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5+ steals per year.
“Adam did a great job and this was a great win for the team. After taking the lead, we were able to control the tempo with the penetration of the dribble and create a mismatch,” explained Schmuck. .
“From an offensive point of view, as a team we have to hit open shots, and that makes us a very good team,” Schmook said.
Senior guard Orion Hill filled in four 3-pointers on Hudson and finished with 15 points and two steals. Hill also defended well.
Senior center James Ensley and junior winger Josh Lee also did well for the Tigers.
Ensley, a 6-6-pound, 240-pound post, saw more minutes due to injury and strong play. He defended well in the paint, leading the team with 8 rebounds for 6 points and 2 assists on the Hudsons.
Lee came off the bench with tons of energy, grabbing 7 rebounds and 4 points. Lee crashed his glass offensively and scored his four on the board.
“James[Ensley]did a really great job for us and Josh[Lee]hit the offensive board, grabbed seven rebounds and two charges,” Schmuck said.
Another diminutive wing, junior Shaun Cleveland, contributed a lot of time in defense from the bench, adding four points and three carroms.
“Sean is a young man who can bring us energy. He just needs to believe in himself,” Schmuck said.
Cleveland receives two feeds from Williams and Ensley, with two important buckets for Q4. What made those whoops possible was Cleveland being active and cutting into the rim.
Sandwiched between these two Cleveland whoops were two straight drives by Williams who had a beautiful finger roll bucket in traffic.
Hudson’s talented 6-4 guard Tino Yli-Junnila scored 16 points but was limited to just two goals in the first half. Luke Brennan, a 6-5 winger, scored 10 points, but Twinsburg held him to just one field goal throughout the second half.