WADSWORTH — On paper, the Twinsburg girls basketball team represented a legitimate threat. The young Tigers had won five of their previous six games, with the lone exception a two-point loss to Suburban League National Conference co-leader Stow.
The reality was smaller Twinsburg couldn’t match up with Wadsworth’s Lexi Lance (6-foot-1), Peyton Banks (5-11) and Kacie Evans (6-1), as the talented and physical post trio scored all but eight of the Grizzlies’ points in the first half Thursday to power an impressive 63-40 victory.
Wadsworth (17-2, 11-1) is in prime position to clinch a share of the SL National championship with games against Brecksville (Wednesday; 1-16, 0-12) and Hudson (Feb. 14; 4-13, 3-9) remaining. The Grizzlies have not gone two straight years without an SL crown since 1990.
“We knew they were younger, but after 11 games everybody is going to get better,” said Lance, who is averaging 14.7 points over the last three games. “They definitely came out and they were ready to fight.
“After a couple of plays, we just started running the floor. We knew that they were more athletic than us, but they weren’t as deep on the bench. We had that advantage.”
Toledo recruit Lance led another balanced effort with 14 points and nine rebounds. Georgia volleyball recruit Evans added 10 points and five boards, while Banks contributed six and nine.
The three scored 22 points as the Grizzlies led 30-19 at halftime. Wadsworth made a point to pound the ball inside against an opponent with no players taller than 5- 11, often rotating the ball to the corner for a deep post entry or throwing a deep transition pass for a streaking layup.
There was little the Tigers could do to counter, especially when much-improved 5-11 sophomore Alana Ellis went to the bench with two fouls at the 5:52 mark of the first quarter.
“I think we definitely came ready for a fight,” Lance said. “We definitely hit the first punch and kept going at them.”
The game was without a field goal for the first 3:23, and the margin was at one possession when Ellis, who averaged 16.0 points over the last 10 games, was charged with foul No. 2.
Wadsworth took control immediately and never really looked back.
The guards made sure there was no comeback bid, as the Grizzlies began the second half on a 14-4 run to make the score 44-23 with 4:02 left in the third quarter. Toledo recruit Sophia Fortner (7 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals) was a playmaking beast with seven points, two dimes and two steals in the period, Maddie Movsesian (7 points, 2 assists) hit a 3-pointer and Taylor Leatherman scored six quick points.
Wadsworth also got six points from backup power forward Allison Elchlinger, a scrappy four points, four rebounds and four steals from backup guard Kylee Batey and three assists from backup point guard E’Anna Won in what amounted to a well-rounded effort against a well-coached opponent.
The Grizzlies are now only 64 minutes from adding another year to the gymnasium banners.
“We knew we had to fight for our Suburban League co-championship with Stow,” Evans said. “We looked at the past score, and (Twinsburg) only lost by two against Stow (on Saturday).
“That means we had to turn it up a little bit, so Coach (Andrew Booth) said ‘Defense’ and that it’s going to be a battle. I feel like we did a really good job with that, especially in the second half.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wadsworth 63, Twinsburg 40
TWINSBURG 7 12 10 11 — 40
WADSWORTH 19 11 24 9 — 63
Twinsburg — Nya Bussey 1-1-3, Alana Ellis 5-0-11, Trinity Carthen 4-2-10, Kayla White 2-0-5, Brittany Williams 0-0-0, Kyndall Hill 3-0-6, Brittany Jolly 1-0-2, Briana Jones 1-0-3, Faith Gregory 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-3-40.
Wadsworth — Taylor Leatherman 4-0-8, Peyton Banks 2-2-6, Lexi Lance 4-6-14, Maddie Movsesian 3-0-7, Sophia Fortner 2-3-7, Kylee Batey 1-2-4, Kacie Evans 4-2-10, E’Anna Won 0-0-0, Molly Palecek 0-0-0, Allison Elchlinger 2-2-6, Maggie Long 0-0-0, Leah Maher 0-1-1, Lauren Zufra 0-0-0, Steph Andrews 0-0-0, Sami Shaffer 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-18-63.
3-point goals — Ellis, White, Jones, Movsesian. Rebounds — Twinsburg 24 (White 7), Wadsworth 40 (Banks, Lance 9). Assists — Twinsburg 11 (Bussey 4), Wadsworth 15 (Fortner 7). Records — Twinsburg (9-9, 7-5), Wadsworth (17-2, 11-1). Junior varsity — Wadsworth 55, Twinsburg 31.