by Steve Batko | Correspondent
Macedonia -- Once the Tallmadge girls basketball team got used to the style of play of Cleveland St. Martin de Porres, the Lady Blue Devils showed more confidence in the team's 60-48 Division II sectional final victory Feb. 23 at Nordonia High School in Macedonia.
Tallmadge head coach Bill Johnson admitted he didn't know too much about the Lions, who were the fifth seed at Nordonia High behind the fourth-seeded Lady Blue Devils (18-6).
"The pace of the game was up and down and more their style early on and defensively, they [the Lions] like to play in-your-face defense with their quickness,"said Johnson, whose team led 11-10 after the first quarter.
"It took the girls awhile to adjust and then we did a great job of maintaining the lead and then hitting free throws was a huge key for us."
In the second quarter, de Porres had a mini 4-0 run to close to the Tallmadge lead to 15-14. Lady Blue Devils' post Amanda Brumbaugh scored on a pull-up shot in the paint on a pass from guard Kelsey Rice at the 3-minute, 50-second mark.
That stretch turned out to be an 11-2 run by Tallmadge, which led 26-16 at the half.
"I thought that everyone contributed in the win against a de Porres team that we may have underestimated how many shots they would make," said Johnson.
"Amanda [Brumbaugh] played a huge role for us in the second quarter as Mary [Ryan] got in foul trouble and Amanda really stepped up. She didn't miss a beat and it was really big for us."
Free throws were a huge key as the Lady Blue Devils hit 26-of-31 overall, including 13-of 16 in the fourth quarter. It wasn't just one or two Tallmadge players converting at the charity stripe. It was everyone.
Ryan went 6-of-6, while Leah Makuch was 5-of-6. Kirsten Lightel was 4-of-4 and Hallie Allen (4-of-5), Rice (4-of-6) and Demi DeLorenzo (3-of-4) also fared well from the line. De Porres was only 7-of-12 at the stripe.
Makuch led with 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Lightel had 12 points, including 10 in the second half and buried two three-pointers.
"We're at our best when we are in transition with our small post players running the floor well," said Johnson. "De Porres took that a way a little, but the girls executed well at times."
Allen, who had eight in the first half, scored 11 points, while Ryan had 10 points and five rebounds.
"Hallie [Allen] did a really nice job when they started taking Kelsey away," said Johnson. "She is getting more and more confident handling the ball, which is something we desperately need."
Rice had a superb floor game with five points,12 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and three blocked shots. She snagged 10 defensive rebounds.
DeLorenzo added seven points, five rebounds and four assists. Brumbaugh grabbed three rebounds.
Guard Shannise Dillard poured in 23 points for de Porres, including 16 in the second half. Tiana Craft added 12 points.
After Lions' coach Eugene White was tagged with a technical foul with 7:03 left, de Porres (15-4) went on a 13-6 spurt and cut the lead to 54-42 with 3:31 left when Corionne Cardwell nailed a triple, but that was as close as de Porres got.
"We haven't faced teams with the kind of quickness that de Porres has and it caused some turnovers," said Johnson.