by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Tallmadge -- The Tallmadge girls basketball team decided to give the full-court press a try Jan. 23.
The Lady Blue Devils may want to consider using such a strategy more often in the future.
Tallmadge improved to 11-4 overall and 6-3 in the Suburban League after posting a convincing 54-36 victory over Copley Jan. 23 at James O. Maddox Court.
The Lady Blue Devils, thanks mainly to their full-court pressure, took control by outscoring the Indians 27-7 in the second quarter to take a 38-16 lead. Tallmadge forced 11 turnovers in the period and 30 for the game.
"Our pressure in the second quarter created open shots," Lady Blue Devils head coach Bill Johnson said. "I told the girls, 'If it's there, take it. Don't hesitate.'"
Tallmadge knocked down all six of its three-point attempts in the first half. The Lady Blue Devils, who usually have just eight players on their roster, considered turning up the defense in the past, but they didn't feel comfortable about committing to it until Jan. 23.
"We didn't do it because of our depth," Johnson said. "We feel like we have depth now. The plan was to use it sporadically, but we were effective and we got it into a rhythm.
"I thought we rotated well. We ran to the right spots."
Tallmadge had 17 assists on its 21 baskets.
Two of those buckets took place on well-executed plays at the end of quarters.
Leah Makuch converted a three-point play with .1 second left in the first half. Makuch received a long pass from Hallie Allen about 10 feet away from the basket. Makuch took a few dribbles and made the layup as she drew contact.
It was Kelsey Rice's turn in the third quarter.
With time running out and the Lady Blue Devils struggling to get an open look, Rice took her coach's advice and didn't hesitate after receiving the ball a few steps away from the foul line. Rice found nothing but net as Tallmadge took a 47-26 advantage into the final eight minutes.
The Lady Blue Devils never looked back.
Makuch led Tallmadge with a game-high 13 points and Rice had eight assists. Allen finished with nine points, six assists, four steals and four rebounds for the Lady Blue Devils.
"Hallie had a phenomenal game," Johnson said. "We have been trying to tell her to push it up the floor once she gets the ball. She's probably our fastest kid on the team. At times, I don't think she believed she could do it. She's starting to see how effective she is when she does."
Johnson also had praise for his two post players, Makuch and forward Mary Ryan, who had 12 points.
"Mary and Leah were fantastic in terms of running the floor and finishing," he said.
Myriah Hoffman and Amy Smith led Copley (5-9, 1-8) with nine points apiece.
It was a nice win for Tallmadge after suffering a tough 50-42 setback to Revere Jan. 19 in Richfield. Rice led all scorers with 16 points.
"Our last two practices we had were the two best we've had this season," Johnson said. "They showed they can rebound from a loss. They're confidence level is high."
The Lady Blue Devils also posted a 39-15 win in the junior varsity game.
It was the Tallmadge's JV team's second win of the season. Joanna Catalano led the Lady Blue Devils with 13 points and Sammy Kline finished with 10 points for Tallmadge.
The varsity team was scheduled to entertain Suburban League rival Highland Jan. 26. Results were not available at press time.
The Lady Blue Devils are set to visit Suburban League foe Nordonia Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. They are scheduled to entertain Wadsworth Feb. 2 at 2:30 p.m.