by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Richfield -- It may not have been nearly as scintillating as the first game.
But second-year Tallmadge head boys basketball coach Aaron Hinkle will take it.
The Blue Devils picked up their first win of the season after posting a 46-33 victory over Suburban League rival Revere Dec. 7 in Richfield.
Host Tallmadge (1-2, 1-1) also lost a 61-54 decision to Suburban League foe Copley Dec. 11.
Tallmadge dropped a thrilling 68-67 overtime loss to Ellet at home in its season opener.
Against the Minutemen, the Blue Devils led most of the way despite not shooting well. Fortunately for Tallmadge, neither did Revere.
The Minutemen, who settled for and missed a lot of perimeter shots, led just once (15-13 with 3 minutes, 8 seconds left in the first half) the entire night.
The Blue Devils had a 22-17 advantage at halftime and built their advantage to double digits (30-19) by the end of three quarters.
Tallmadge took control, thanks to its stellar defense and strong rebounding. And of course, the Blue Devils watched the Minutemen miss shot after shot.
"I was surprised," said Hinkle when asked if the Minutemen settled for too many jumpers. "We wanted to keep them out of the paint, but they have a lot of size."
While the loss to Ellet proved to be the coming-out party for Andrew Francesconi, Tallmadge had a little more balance against Revere (0-3, 0-2).
The Blue Devils' offensive star on this night was their undersized post player, Damon Gidley.
The 6-foot-2 junior shared game-high honors with 14 points and was a major reason why Tallmadgead the edge on the glass throughout the evening.
"Damon Gidley had a nice game," Hinkle said. "He was really physical. I bet he came close to getting a double-double."
The Blue Devils also made their free throws.
Tallmadge converted 16-of-23 from the charity stripe, compared to a 6-of-12 effort from the Minutemen. Even when the Blue Devils missed their foul shots, some good came out of it.
During one occasion in the fourth quarter, Gidley missed two free throws, but the Blue Devils got the offensive rebound and Gidley wound up getting another two chance at the foul line. This time, Gidley made both.
"It's always huge when you make more free throws than the opponent shoots," Hinkle said. "I thought our rebounding and free-throw shooting down the stretch won it for us."
A total of seven players scored at least three points for Tallmadge.
Nate Bickar, who put Revere away when he made all six of his free throws late in the fourth quarter, finished with eight points. Francesconi added seven points.
And here's an interesting fact: The Blue Devils did not make a single three-pointer.
It wasn't for lack of trying in the first 16 minutes.
Tallmadge wasn't much better from the perimeter than the Minutemen. That percentage increased after halftime as the Blue Devils made getting to the paint a priority.
"I thought we played selfish basketball in the first half," Hinkle said. "It was good to see how we responded in the second half."
Zach Lalkowski led Revere with 14 points. No other player scored more than seven points for the Minutemen.
Yes, Tallmadge still has a long way to go.
During the loss to Copley (1-3, 1-1), the Blue Devils scored just five points in the second quarter.
Nevertheless, Tallmadge was still in the game until the Indians outscored the Blue Devils 21-14 in the fourth quarter. Francesconi led Tallmadge with 26 points.
Nevertheless, the Blue Devils, who lack height and experience, have made a strong impression on their coach.
"We have some guys who like to compete," Hinkle said. "We need to get our technique corrected, but I like the spirit."
Tallmadge was scheduled to host Suburban League rival Highland Dec. 14. Results were not available at press time.
The Blue Devils are set to visit league foes Nordonia Dec. 18 before returning home to entertain Wadsworth Dec. 21.
Both varsity contests are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.