WADSWORTH — Down 11 points with slightly less than five minutes left Friday, the Wadsworth boys basketball team needed to ramp up its intensity and heart.
The Grizzlies responded and mounted a furious comeback, but senior Tony Hewitt’s 3-pointer from the right side clanked off the side of the rim and Twinsburg escaped with a 63-61 Suburban League National Conference victory.
“I think they played that whole fourth quarter with heart, but the problem is, if we’re only going to play one and a half quarters with heart, then we’re going to have a hard time winning,” said Grizzlies coach Mike Schmeltzer Jr., whose team fell to 3-5, 2-3. “The next challenge is going to be four quarters of heart.”
Twinsburg (7-2, 4-1) grabbed its largest lead when sophomore guard Josh Wanton scored back-to-back baskets to put the Tigers ahead 54-43 with 4:53 left. Hewitt (14 points) began the rally with a basket on the next possession, starting a 10-0 run capped by senior forward Ryan Storad.
After Tiger guard Leroy Fitzgerald extended the lead to 56-53, Wadsworth senior forward Reid Black tied the game with a three-point play with 1:24 remaining.
“We had to step up and play defense and force turnovers,” Hewitt said. “We’ve got to play harder (for the full game).”
Wadsworth forced four turnovers in the final five minutes, but the next 45 seconds sealed the Grizzlies’ fate.
After Twinsburg split free throws with a minute left, a critical four-point swing changed the game. Tiger sophomore guard Ken McElrath went up for a layup with 41.8 seconds left and Black was called for an intentional foul. McElrath made both foul shots and, on the ensuing possession, junior wing Rapheal Campbell scored to give Twinsburg a 61-56 lead.
“I’m not an official and I’m not going to judge (the call), but it’s just a terrible time to have that call made,” Schmeltzer said. “In a tight game like that, the kid is not on the ground or anything. That’s a tough one.”
Wadsworth refused to go quietly, as Black scored with 17.6 seconds left on a hook shot. The Grizzlies cut the lead to 62-61 when senior guard Christian Szalay struck on a layup and hit a foul shot with 7.8 seconds left.
Senior Stefon Scott scored his only point for the Tigers on the next possession when he hit the second of two free throws to set up Wadsworth’s final comeback attempt, which ended on Hewitt’s missed 3-pointer.
The Grizzlies never trailed in the first half, as Hewitt began the game with a personal 8-0 run that included two 3-pointers. Twinsburg closed the quarter on a 4-0 run to give Wadsworth a 12-9 lead at the first break. The lead was trimmed to 30-29 at halftime.
A 10-4 run gave Twinsburg a 39-34 lead and the Grizzlies never reclaimed the advantage.
Contact John Urchek at email@example.com.
Twinsburg 63, Wadsworth 61
TWINSBURG 9 20 16 18 — 63
WADSWORTH 12 18 8 23 — 61
Twinsburg — Ken McElrath 2-3-8, Raphael Campbell 4-4-12, Darrell Newsom 4-1-11, Leroy Fitzgerald 2-0-4, Ryan Felberg 2-0-6, Michael Moore 6-1-15, Josh Wanton 3-0-6, Stefon Scott 0-1-1, Jared Young 0-0-0, Chris Fox 0-0-0. TOTALS: 23-10-63.
Wadsworth — Tony Hewitt 5-1-14, Jack Simmons 3-0-6, Reid Black 4-1-9, Jake Justice 4-0-10, Christian Szalay 4-1-9, Mitchell Blackburn 1-0-2, Carson Risher 2-0-5, Ryan Storad 2-2-6, Beau Casey 0-0-0. TOTALS: 25-5-61.
3-point goals — Moore 2, Felberg 2, Newsom 2, McElrath, Hewitt 3, Justice 2, Risher. Rebounds — Twinsburg 15 (Campbell 5), Wadsworth 18 (Black 6). Assists — Twinsburg 5 (Moore 2), Wadsworth 9 (Szalay, Justice, Hewitt 2). Records — Twinsburg (7-2, 4-1), Wadsworth (3-5, 2-3). Junior varsity — Wadsworth 46, Twinsburg 42.