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by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor
Tallmadge -- Basketball is the kind of sport where swings in form can easily occur in 24-hour periods.
The Tallmadge and Stow-Munroe Falls girls basketball teams proved that point Dec. 28 in the final of the inaugural Tallmadge Holiday Classic.
About 24 hours earlier, the Lady Blue Devils had handed Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy a 30-point loss, while the Lady Bulldogs had looked very rusty in a win over Kent Roosevelt.
However, the two teams saw their respective forms switch in the final, resulting in a huge 57-29 win for the Bulldogs.
Stow improved to 8-2, while Tallmadge dropped to 7-2 as of press time.
Lady Blue Devils head coach Bill Johnson was a bit exasperated by the result.
"We didn't do the little things and it showed," Johnson said. "This is the first time all season that we didn't play well on defense. I don't think we're 28 points worse than they are, but they probably are better than us."
If Tallmadge's usually stingy defense lapsed, Stow's was sharp the entire night.
Podges made it clear the Lady Bulldogs' top priority was to keep Lady Blue Devils' point guard Kelsey Rice under wraps. He gave the assignment to sophomore Sam Shaver to man-mark her.
The result: Rice scored only three points in the game and, more importantly, was unable to get Tallmadge's fast break game going.
With Rice having Shaver in her hip pocket, the Lady Blue Devils were limited to single digits in every quarter.
Tallmadge opened the game by scoring the first four points of the contest, but Stow finished the first quarter on a 15-4 run.
It was a glimpse of things to come for the Lady Blue Devils as Stow guard Abbie Lawson scored all seven of her points in the first quarter.
Tallmadge was able to cut the deficit to 19-15, thanks to a three-pointer from Rice.
It was at that point, however, that the Lady Bulldogs effectively put the game away.
A 15-0 run from Stow ended the first quarter as Shaver and Christina Vaughn each hit three-pointers. When their outside game wasn't working, the Lady Bulldogs were able to use some nice inside passing to set up layups.
"Their guards were really quick," Johnson said. "Any offense that can get to the basket easily is going to be successful."
Against the small Tallmadge lineup, Stow's front court had a big night. Center Maddie Baer put her 6-foot-2 frame to good use, scoring 10 points and adding nine rebounds, while forward Danielle Tiller also had 10 points. Shaver finished with nine points.
Up 34-15 at halftime, the Lady Bulldogs defense kept up their pressure and dominated the Lady Blue Devils on the boards.
"One of our big things we needed to do was rebound and we just didn't get it done," Johnson said.
Despite the efforts of Tallmadge forward Mary Ryan -- who scored all of the Lady Blue Devils' third-quarter points -- Stow pushed the lead to 45-21 after three. Ryan led the Blue Devils with nine points.