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Final shot doesn't fall in loss to Minutemen

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: January 22, 2017 12:00 AM
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TALLMADGE -- It was a glorious moment for Tallmadge fans when senior guard/forward Matthew Francesconi buried a buzzer-beating game-winning shot to upset nemesis Highland on Friday the 13th.

One week later on the very same court, the situation was eerily similar for the Blue Devils.

Sadly for the Tallmadge boys basketball team, it didn't go in this time.

The host Blue Devils fell to 6-4 overall and 3-2 in the Suburban League American Conference after losing a heartbreaking 51-49 decision to Revere Jan. 13 at James O. Maddox Court.

Trailing 51-49 with 10.3 left, Francesconi, Tallmadge's leading scorer, had a chance to win it in the final seconds.

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Francesconi, who played limited minutes because of an illness, was heavily guarded and his 3-point attempt from the left side hit the backboard and the rim before falling into the Minutemen's hands as thesounded.

"We gave Matthew a ball screen to see what we could develop," Blue Devils head coach Mike Bluey said. "We had [senior guard] Josh [Taylor] coming off a flare. We didn't have enough space to get the shot off."

Prior to the drama in the final seconds, Tallmadge appeared to be in big trouble.

Revere (6-3, 3-2) went on a 9-0 to take a 45-36 lead late in the third quarter.

However, the Blue Devils chipped away at the Minutemen's advantage and had multiple chances to take the lead in the final three minutes.

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In fact, when junior guard Zach Boyd knocked down a baby hook off an assist from senior guard Julius Lee, Tallmadge was down just one (47-46).

The Blue Devils had a chance to take the lead, but sophomore guard Samson Albert got a steal near midcourt and converted the layup to give Revere a 49-46 lead.

The Minutemen built their advantage to five (51-46) when junior guard Joe Boyer knocked down two free throws with 59.9 seconds.

However, Tallmadge didn't go away.

With approximately 40 seconds left on the clock, Boyd drained a 3-pointer from the right side to cut the Blue Devils' deficit to a deuce (51-49).

Tallmadge had a chance to win it when Lee poked the ball away and got it before being tied up. But the Blue Devils called time-out before a bevy of Minutemen players tried to take ball away from Lee.

"Julius had a really solid basketball game," Bluey said. "He has really become a good defender. He continues to get better on the ball. He gave us an extra possession at the end of the game."

Midway through the first half, Tallmadge was in control, thanks to some deadly outside shooting, The Blue Devils led 22-10 after a 3-pointer by junior guard Jake Rensel.

"Jake hit some big shots in the first half," Bluey said.

Tallmadge had a 27-24 advantage at halftime and then had trouble getting the ball for much of the third quarter. Revere had a 12-4 edge on the glass in the third.

"The third quarter is when we lost the game," Bluey said. "We didn't rebound the ball in the third quarter. That was the difference in the game."

Taylor made four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points for the Blue Devils and Boyd added 11 points. Tallmadge knocked down seven 3-pointers and was 6-of-7 from the foul line.

Six-foot-6 forward Pete Nance led the Minutemen with 14 points and junior forward Daniel Miller contributed 11 points off the bench. Miller knocked down three of Revere's six 3-pointers. The Minutemen made 5-of-6 shots from the charity stripe.

Sophomore forward Matt Grayem converted two 3-pointers and finished with 8 points for Revere.

Francesconi wasn't the only player hindered by illness. Despite these obstacles, the Blue Devils managed to get back in the game in the fourth quarter with Francesconi resting on the bench.

"We're battling with the flu," Bluey said. "When your best guy is not 100 percent, you still have to play the game. I was proud of our effort."

Tallmadge earned a 43-39 overtime win in the junior varsity contest. Sophomore Garrett Heller led the Blue Devils with 13 points and freshman Brandon Heigelman added 10 points.

Both the varsity and JV squads were scheduled to visit American Conference rival Aurora Jan. 20. Results were not available at press time.

The Blue Devils are set to entertain Suburban League crossover foe Cuyahoga Falls Jan. 24 before heading to Canton South Jan. 28. Both varsity contests are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

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