by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
After a two-game losing streak, the Tallmadge girls basketball team sorely needed a boost prior to the holidays.
Fortunately for the Lady Blue Devils, their senior point guard was more than happy to oblige.
Host Tallmadge improved to 5-3 on the season after earning a lopsided 62-24 victory over Garrettsville James A. Garfield Dec. 21 at James O. Maddox Court.
Kelsey Rice did just about everything for the Lady Blue Devils, who looked to pick up the pieces after suffering back-to-back double-digit losses to Suburban League rivals Nordonia and Wadsworth.
The accomplished four-year starting point guard finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, five steals and most impressive of all, five blocked shots.
Such a performance has been pretty much typical for the athletic playmaker since she first put on a Tallmadge uniform more than four years ago.
But this particular game proved to be especially special even for Rice's lofty standards.
"Kelsey was awesome," fourth-year Lady Blue Devils head coach Bill Johnson said. "She was all over the place and really set the tone early on for the game. She didn't even play in the fourth quarter."
Rice and her teammates made it clear that Garfield had no chance right after the jump ball.
Tallmadge, thanks to its ability to force a number of turnovers, jumped out to a 17-2 lead and never looked back.
"We turned them over and really converted on their mistakes," Johnson said.
Two other Lady Blue Devils also reached double digits in scoring.
Senior guard Kirsten Lightel knocked down a trio of three-pointers on her way to 11 points.
Freshman guard Olivia Ayres continues to impress as she finished with 10 points.
The damage was done early in the game. As a result, Johnson was able to get a number of players varsity minutes.
"I played a lot of freshmen in the fourth quarter," he said. "It was nice to see them play hard and get a chance to experience some success at the varsity level.
"We outscored them 13-8 in the fourth quarter and we didn't have any upperclassmen play the entire quarter. Overall, it was a good game to go to break with."
Tallmadge was scheduled to compete in the Holiday Tournament Dec. 27 and 28 at Thomas Worthington High School in Columbus. Results were not available at press time.
The Lady Blue Devils are set to make their 2014 debut Jan. 4 with a home game against league foe Green. Varsity tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.