WADSWORTH — It was as swift as it was stunning.
The Wadsworth girls basketball team had Twinsburg on the ropes Saturday with a two-possession lead in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies were standing tall against the two-time Division I state champion, and, at the time, had the best player on the floor in point guard Rachel Goddard.
Then Ashley Morrissette and the Tigers decided to remind everyone why they haven’t lost to an Ohio team in 995 days.
Final score: Twinsburg 50, Wadsworth 36 in a highly anticipated non-league game that matched the hype until the Tigers took the fourth quarter by a 21-2 count.
“I’ll state the obvious and say you can’t play three quarters against a very good team and expect to win,” Grizzlies coach Andrew Booth said.
Due in large part to Twinsburg’s grinding man-to-man defense, Wadsworth (2-1) fell apart after taking a 34-29 lead. In the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies were 1-of-9 from the floor, 0-of-5 at the free throw line and committed five turnovers.
Meanwhile, Morrissette, who was playing for the first time since being ejected from last season’s state championship game, tied the game at 36, then gave the Tigers (3-0) the lead for good with an old-fashioned three-point play on the next possession. Char-dell Dunningan (15 points, 8 rebounds) followed suit with a hoop-and-harm.
Wadsworth then uncharacteristically panicked a bit with drives into traffic and quick shot attempts. Twinsburg countered with a barrage of free throws in the final 2 minutes to make the final score a bit misleading.
“It was almost like once we got down a bucket or two, it looked like we were trying to do everything by ourselves,” Booth said. “We’ve got competitive kids and they’re trying to make plays. That typically doesn’t work against a Julie Solis-coached defense.”
For the first three quarters, Morrissette, a Purdue recruit who hit a buzzer-beater to beat the Grizzlies at the 2011 Canton Division I Regional, struggled with her shot (3-of-14) as Goddard took center stage.
The reigning Gazette MVP scored all 14 of her points in helping Wadsworth forge a five-point lead, highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers and an acrobatic finish while being fouled in the third quarter.
“She’s a heckuva player,” Booth said. “Without her — 14 of our 36 (points) going in there — it’s probably a little bit ugly.”
The problem was the rest of the team was 7-for-27 (.259) from the floor, though Peyton Booth had a respectable line of eight points, six rebounds and three blocks. Twinsburg also owned a 38-24 rebounding advantage, as posts Dunnigan and Baleigh Reid (11 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals) consistently bruised their way to put-backs.
The lack of poise in crunch time, however, was what irked Andrew Booth the most.
“I think our effort was fantastic,” Booth said. “Our execution was what cost us the game in the fourth quarter. I told the kids no one is trying to make mistakes, trying to miss shots or trying to mess up assignments. When the pressure gets turned up, we need to learn how to execute better.”
Aubrey Virgin scored 17 points to lead Wadsworth’s junior varsity to a 44-29 come-from-behind victory.
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