Twinsburg High School girls basketball coach Julie Solis believes opponents at the KeyBank Holiday Classic should be wary of her team's defensive play.

Twinsburg High School girls basketball coach Julie Solis believes opponents at the KeyBank Holiday Classic should be wary of her team's defensive play.

The Tigers were 5-0 after defeating Strongsville 61-50 on Dec. 18. None of their first three opponents scored more than 41 points, and they rolled to an 80-17 win over Elyria on Dec. 11. Also among their victories was a 76-41 win over Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, a Division II state semifinalist last year, on Dec. 1.

"Defense is where you win basketball games," said Solis, whose team plays Pittsburgh Mt. Lebanon in the first round of the KeyBank Holiday Classic at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"That has always been my philosophy. Defense is something that we've prided ourselves on. We like to get up into teams and make them make bad decisions."

Last season, Solis' first at Twinsburg, that strategy seemed to work pretty well. After losing to Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown 74-47 in the opener, the Tigers rolled off a program-record 23 consecutive wins before losing to Canton McKinley 53-43 in a Division I regional championship.

Playing in an event like the KeyBank Holiday Classic will be a good test for Twinsburg, according to Solis. Outside of the possibility of playing Walsh Jesuit again in a semifinal on Wednesday if both teams win their first-round game, the Tigers won't know much about their opponents.

"It's difficult," Solis said. "Scouting is my bread and butter. I love watching game film and analyzing what a team does. But sometimes it's beneficial to play teams we don't know anything about. We've got a lot of experienced players on this team and they know what to do.

"In a situation like this, you have to show you can make in-game adjustments. You have to react when you have adversity. We always have the same philosophy. We worry about ourselves and do what we need to do to be successful."

Twinsburg is led by 6-foot-4 junior center Malina Howard, who was averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds through three games. Howard was the only non-senior to make first team all-state last season in Division I. She spent the summer working with the Team USA U-18 squad in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"That was a great experience for her," Solis said. "Howard moves very well and has extended her game out to the 3-point line."

Other key players include seniors Nicole Carman (5-10, forward) and Katie Fox (5-5, guard), junior LaShawna Gatewood (5-10, forward) and sophomore Ashley Morrissette (5-9, guard).