by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
All season long, the Tallmadge boys basketball team has had an uncanny knack for getting out the gates slowly.
Fortunately, that wasn't the case during the Blue Devils' two games at the Canton South Invitational.
Now Tallmadge needs to address its next issue: The Blue Devils are still struggling with consistency,
Tallmadge dropped to 1-7 on the season after losing to Tuscarawas Valley (Zoarville) and Malvern at the Canton South Invitational, which concluded Dec. 29 at Canton South High School.
The Blue Devils lost a 54-46 decision to Tusky Valley Dec. 29 and lost a 64-40 decision to Malvern Dec. 28.
In both games, Tallmadge got off to a fast start. The Blue Devils led 14-8 after the first eight minutes against Tusky Valley and had a 15-14 advantage over Malvern.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, their hot starts didn't last.
Tusky Valley outscored Tallmadge 19-9 in the second quarter and closed the game with a 21-12 spurt in the final eight minutes.
Against Malvern, the Blue Devils trailed 30-23 at halftime after Malvern went on a 10-2 spurt at the end of the half. Malvern took complete control in the first few minutes of the third period.
Against the Trojans, Andrew Francesconi led the Blue Devils with 13 points and Joseph Vassalotti added 11 points for Tallmadge.
"Tusky Valley did a nice job at the free throw line," Blue Devils head coach Aaron Hinkle said. "They made 13-of-15 foul shots in the fourth quarter. We had some turnovers at inopportune times. It was a one-point game with 2:16 left and we had consecutive turnovers."
Once Malvern gained all the momentum late in the second quarter, Tallmadge had an uphill climb the rest of the way.
"We got off to a good start, which is something we hadn't done," Hinkle said. "Malvern had a nice player in Max Kapron. He's a 6-foot-5 athletic kid who had eight points in the third quarter."
Vassalotti led the Blue Devils with 11 points.
"Joseph has been shooting the ball a lot better," Hinkle said. "We're just trying to get better every day and put ourselves in a position to win."
Tallmadge was scheduled to host Suburban League rival Green Jan. 4. Results were not available at press time.
The Blue Devils are set to visit league foe Cloverleaf Jan. 11 at 7:30 p.m.