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by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor
Defense has been the foundation of Tallmadge girls basketball since Bill Johnson took over the program.
However, last week's game showed a team can play great defense, but if it can't score, wins are tough to come by.
Wadsworth held the Lady Blue Devils to 19 points in a game for the second time this season Feb. 2 at Tallmadge. The Grizzlies won a lopsided 63-19 decision.
Things didn't get much better on the offensive end for the Lady Blue Devils Feb. 6 at Green as Tallmadge lost 34-25.
Between the two Suburban League games, the Lady Blue Devils played a late make-up game with Akron Garfield at James O. Maddox Court Feb. 4.
Tallmadge routed the Rams 50-23.
The Blue Devils record stood at 14-6 overall and 8-5 in the Suburban League heading into the season's final week.
Johnson was at a loss to describe why his team struggled so much against Wadsworth.
"I don't really have lot of answers to be honest," Johnson said. "It's frustrating because we've been competitive with everybody else in the league, but never with Wadsworth. [Point guard] Kelsey [Rice] went out early in the second quarter with a breathing problem, but at that point, it really didn't matter.
The Grizzlies, who remained unbeaten in the Suburban League, blitzed the Blue Devils 17-2 in the first quarter and never looked back.
"We didn't do the things we needed to do to be successful against them," Johnson said. "They do a really good job of pressuring all the time. We talked about trying to slow ourselves down, but once the scoreboard got to 9-2 or 12-2, it's hard to slow down. Once they get you sped up, it's hard to slow down."
Wadsworth was led by 14 points by Mackenzie O'Brien. Forward Leah Makuch was Tallmadge's leading scorer with eight points. The Lady Blue Devils surrendered 26 turnovers in the loss.
Two days later, Johnson said the Rams offered little resistance.
"It was 40-11 after three quarters, so I played the JV [junior varsity] the entire fourth quarter," Johnson said. "It was a good comeback game after Wadsworth. We did some things that you're supposed to against a team like that."
Guard Hallie Allen led the Lady Blue Devils with 14 points and four assists, while forward Mary Ryan had nine points.
Against Green, Tallmadge took a 9-5 lead after one quarter, but didn't reach double digits in any quarter in the game.
Green outscored the Lady Blue Devils 23-14 in the second half to take the win.
"It was 23-23 with like a minute left in the game," Johnson said. "The two teams are very similar. Both teams struggled to score. I wasn't displeased with our effort. We've just got to try to score a bit more."
Mary Ryan led Tallmadge with seven points and six rebounds.
The Lady Blue Devils were outrebounded 21-16 and lost the turnover battle 17-11.
Tallmadge is scheduled to close out the regular season with a pair of road games. The Lady Blue Devils are set top travel to Mogadore Feb. 11 and Cloverleaf Feb. 13 in Lodi. Game time both nights is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Tallmadge earned the No. 4 seed at the Division II district tournament at Nordonia Feb. 2. Defending state champion Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown earned the No. 1 seed, followed by Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and Revere.
The Lady Blue Devils are set to open the postseason against Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Feb. 20 at Nordonia High School. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.