CUYAHOGA FALLS: Walsh Jesuit and Twinsburg battled closely for most of a gritty, defense-driven game, but the Warriors eventually found a groove to defeat the Tigers 55-44 at home on Wednesday night.
Walsh (9-3) and Twinsburg (6-6) remained close until junior Anna Hall led the Warriors on a flurry late in the third quarter with a couple of hustle plays. Following a basket from senior Chelsea Pla to put Walsh ahead 28-23, Hall stole the inbounds pass and added another quick basket to give the Warriors their biggest lead of the night.
Then, off of a steal by senior Rachel Keough, Hall navigated the lane on a fast break and got a layup to fall, pushing Walsh’s lead to 32-23.
Hall finished with a team-high 17 points, including eight in the third quarter as Walsh made its run, to go along with four rebounds, a steal and an assist.
Finding just a bit of momentum is what Walsh needed, and it is what’s been spurring the Warriors forward this season.
“When our momentum gets up, as you could see, we get really excited and it brings us together as a team,” Hall said. “We needed that stretch to get us going.”
Hall also pointed back to Walsh’s first game of the season, a surprise loss to Holy Name, as the reason for the Warriors’ 9-2 record since then.
“I don’t even really know what happened that game,” Hall said. “That was a shock to all of us. We all came out after that and we really put our minds to it and it’s showing now.”
Pla added 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for Walsh. Keough finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three steals. And junior Lilli Piper filled the stat sheet with eight points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks.
Walsh is finding its rhythm. But amid the wins, coach Pete Zaccari is still working to limit the Warriors’ turnovers, which allowed Twinsburg to remain within striking distance despite the Tigers scoring just two points in the second quarter.
“We’ve got to reduce the turnovers, especially the unforced errors,” Zaccari said. “We had a lot tonight [18 entering the fourth quarter, when the game was out of reach]. “When you get into big games and the playoffs, that’s something we definitely have to improve on.”
Twinsburg senior Baleigh Reid scored a game-high 25 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter as the Tigers tried to climb back into the game.
Twinsburg is still searching for an identity after the mass exodus of talent that’s left the program the past two seasons. Reid, now stepping into a larger role, has been a bright spot.
“They’re a tough team and Baleigh is a tough player,” Zaccari said. “It’s tough, tough to stop her when she gets in [the lane]. She’s a big name.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.