by Michael Leonard
Things have not always gone to plan for the Tallmadge girls basketball team.
The Lady Blue Devils lost a 44-26 decision to Suburban League rival Wadsworth Dec. 18 at James O. Maddox Court.
On Dec. 14 at Nordonia, Tallmadge took a 21-16 lead into halftime, only to see Nordonia storm back to win 53-40. The Knights outscored the Lady Blue Devils 19-7 in the fourth quarter.
"We didn't defend very well in the second half at all," said Tallmadge head coach Bill Johnson.
"They played well and forced us into some bad plays."
The Lady Blue Devils were led by 12 points apiece from post players Mary Ryan and Joanna Catalano. Point guard Kelsey Rice finished with five points and seven rebounds.
A telling statistic was that Tallmadge lost the turnover battle 22-15 to Nordonia.
It was certainly not the result Johnson was looking for with the Grizzlies next.
However, while Wadsworth cruised to the win, Johnson was happy with his team's effort.
Tallmadge's record stood at 4-3 overall and 2-3 in the Suburban League as of press time.
Johnson noted controlling the first quarter against the Grizzlies was critical as Wadsworth had outscored its opponents 128-26 in its first eight games this season.
"We really tried to take time off the clock," Johnson said. "We wanted to limit their offensive possessions. Our girls really bought into it."
What's more, going to the four corners offense worked as the Lady Blue Devils led 10-9 after the first quarter.
Wadsworth picked up the pressure in the second half to take a 26-13 lead at halftime.
However, a late bucket from Ryan allowed Tallmadge cut the lead to 31-19 after three quarters.
"We really had talked about all week about just staying into the game until the fourth quarter and then seeing what happens," Johnson said.
Johnson said Kristen Lightel had a three-pointer go halfway down, but come back out to start the fourth quarter, only to see the Grizzlies hit a three on their next possession.
"That kind of took the wind out of our sails," Johnson said. "If you can hold a team as good as Wadsworth to 44 points, we can do that against anybody. "
The turnover battle was basically a wash (Tallmadge had 16 and Wadsworth finished with 15), while the taller Grizzlies finished with only a 19-14 edge in rebounds.
Catalano finished with nine points and five rebounds, while Ryan added seven points. Rice finished with two points, three rebounds, four steals and five blocked shots.
Wadsworth's Jodie Johnson led all scorers with 14 points.
"Overall, the effort was fantastic," Johnson said.
Tallmadge was set to host Garrettsville James A. Garfield Dec. 21, but results were not available at press time.
Following Christmas, the Lady Blue Devils are scheduled to make a trip to suburban Columbus to participate in the Worthington Holiday Classic at Thomas Worthington High School Dec. 27 and 28.
Tallmadge is set to face Thomas Worthington Dec. 27 at 7:30 p.m. and then take on Columbus Brookhaven Dec. 28 at 6 p.m.