WADSWORTH: Buckets were hard to come by Wednesday night at Wadsworth.
Fortunately for the host Grizzlies, senior Jodi Johnson was in uniform and No. 15 led Wadsworth to a 49-40 win over Twinsburg.
Johnson led the top-ranked Division I girls basketball team in the state with 24 points and seven rebounds in a Suburban League National Conference game she called “intense.”
“Their defense is very aggressive,” Johnson said. “They put the pressure on us, which kind of frazzles us as a team, but we were able to keep our composure in the second half and finish in the end.”
Wadsworth (17-1, 11-0) jumped on Twinsburg (11-7, 5-5) in the first quarter, but the Tigers rallied to make things interesting.
“I was like, ‘Let’s go! I’m not losing this game, I’m not losing this Suburban League game,’?” Johnson said. “We knew this game could definitely be a big one for us winding down the Suburban League. We needed to win this game obviously in order to get where we want to get.”
Twinsburg junior Jasmine Bishop scored the first basket of the game, but Wadsworth rattled off the next 13 points to hold a 13-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Grizzlies’ run reached 15-0 before the Tigers finally got rolling. Johnson scored six points during Wadsworth’s surge, sophomore Sophia Fortner scored five points and sophomore Lexi Lance and junior McKenna Banks each added two points.
“We played very well to start the game,” Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. “We knew Twinsburg was going to come out and play extremely hard, and I thought we matched and maybe even exceeded that.”
Wadsworth’s lead stood at 20-13 at halftime and 36-28 after three quarters. Bishop, freshman Nya Bussey, junior Dasja Anderson and junior Shaundrea Butler helped Twinsburg cut its deficit to 45-40 with under a minute to go in the fourth quarter, but Johnson’s twin sister, senior Jenna Johnson, made a layup and the Grizzlies got a free throw from sophomore Peyton Banks and senior Laurel Palitto to conclude the scoring.
“It was very, very physical,” Booth said. “At times border-line ugly, and a grind. That was a very grind-it-out type of game, to steal from [Ohio State football coach] Urban Meyer. Twinsburg, obviously, they hang their hat on the defensive end. They are very athletic, they play extremely hard and they were very physical tonight.
“At times, I thought we handled it OK, at times I thought we didn’t handle it at all and at a couple of times late in the game we got some buckets because we handled it very well. That was key to keep them at bay.”
Peyton Banks scored 10 points for Wadsworth and Fortner had five points and four assists. McKenna Banks, Lance, Jenna Johnson and Palitto accounted for 10 points.
Bishop paced Twinsburg with 13 points and six rebounds. Bussey and junior Jailyn Reid each scored eight points, and Anderson chipped in five points.
“We have been going against coach [Julie] Solis for a long, long time,” Booth said. “The girls certainly bought into the fact that Twinsburg was going to be a very good test, and it was. We talked about after the game that this will help us down the road. You will see that kind of game in a late-round tournament game.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the #ABJVarsity high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.