GREENPORT — In their first games back from winter break, the Columbia-Greene Community College Twins did not disappoint Tuesday night.
The Lady Twins overcame a slow start to defeat a feisty, talented Hudson Valley Community College squad 84-69 and ruin Catskill native Hayley Jones' homecoming.
In the main event of the evening, the C-GCC men defeated a short-handed Hudson Valley team 85-76 behind solid performances from Rayquan Bryant and Matt Smith.
Jones, a Catskill graduate, scored 76 points (7.6 per game) and pulled down 56 rebounds for HVCC entering Tuesday's matchup.
"It meant a lot," Jones said of her homecoming. "It would have been nice if we were able to get the win, but it was nice that I was able to play in front of my family and friends just like when I was in high school."
The Lady Twins, who entered the game 10-2 and with a 6-0 record at home, were tested early by the Lady Vikings and the guard duo of Taylor Engster and Hannah Kreiger.
With Edge starting the game on the bench, Hudson Valley jumped out to a 9-2 lead, but that quickly changed when the sophomore entered the game and scored eight points to reverse the tide and give Columbia-Greene a 16-14 lead.
Kreiger, a 3-point specialist for the Lady Vikings, buried three consecutive treys to give Hudson Valley a 23-16 edge after the first quarter.
Jones, who was held scoreless in the first quarter, buried a trey midway through the second to give Hudson Valley a 28-21 lead. The Lady Twins responded with Edge knocking down a trey of her own and All'aha Albright following that up with a 3-pointer to make it a 30-27 game.
The late run gave the Lady Twins a 41-37 lead heading into halftime.
In the second half, it was the combination of Edge, Casiris Ruiz and Daniella Weinschreider that got the job done on the offensive end.
Weinschreider opened the third with two 3-pointers and a pair of free throws to help give C-GCC a 49-46 lead.
The Twins continued to slowly pull away with Ruiz going on a 7-0 by herself to lift the Lady Twins to a 57-46 lead.
In the fourth the Lady Vikings, who ran out of steam late and started to struggle with turnovers, saw the Lady Twins extend their lead with prolific scoring from Ruiz and Weinschreider. The duo combined for 10 of the team's 18 points in the quarter.
"In the second half we played a lot better as a team, we moved the ball a lot better and it was really nice to have a player like Cas [Ruiz] comeback from eligibility and she really helped the team in a lot of aspects. Tanisha [Edge] shot the heck out of the ball like she always does," said coach Jayme Bates.
Edge, Weinschreider and Ruiz each finished in double-figure with Edge pacing the team with 28. Weinschreider finished with 19 points and Ruiz also finished with 19.
Jones finished with four points for the Lady Vikings.
With the win the Lady Twins improve to 11-2 on the season.
"It is a nice feeling. We talk about it and it's nice to keep the [home] court clean from losses, especially when we have a lot of big games coming up at home, so I am happy for the players and the team," Bates said.
The Twins, playing a hobbled Hudson Valley team of five players, capitalized early.
Columbia-Greene, which also fell victim to losing a chunk of its team once again from the first semester, jumped out to a quick 8-1 lead on the Vikings with Jacorey Nixon leading the way with four points.
Raheem Duncan, the Vikings leading scorer on the night, quickly got Hudson Valley back in it with four straight points to make it 12-7 .
The Vikings were able to cut the deficit down to 17-13 midway through the half, however, with each small comeback the Twins responded with a big run to increase the lead. Bryant, Jahrice Ballard and Matt Smith connected on consecutive 3-pointers to give the Twins a 26-13 lead and the Twins prolific first half scoring did not end there.
A balanced attack led by Smith and Nixon helped give Columbia-Greene a 18-point halftime lead, 42-24.
The combination of Bryant and Smith went for 16 points to help Columbia-Greene take a commanding 63-43 lead halfway through the second period.
Despite being down 20, Hudson Valley continued to fight and clawed its way back into the game as Columbia-Greene went cold from the field.
The Twins kept their lead around 18-20 until the final six minutes of action when Hudson Valley made a last ditch effort to pull of a big comeback. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Eddie Kwaw made it a 82-68 game, but Ballard put the Vikings away with a late 3-pointer to make it 85-71.
"I think that now that we have everything in place we are good," C-GCC coach Brian Smith said. "I could see in the beginning we went off and tried to get some guys some in that haven't had many minutes throughout the season and it slipped away a little bit, but we are happy with the result."
Bryant led the Twins in scoring with 20 points, knocking down four triples. Smith chipped in with 17 points and three triples and Nixon finished with 13.
With the win, Columbia-Greene improves to 6-8 on the year. C-GCC had 13 players on its roster heading into the season, but is left with just seven -- five being freshmen.
-- Justin Porreca