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Aurora stymies girls hoops' title hopes

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: February 19, 2017 12:00 AM
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AURORA -- They desperately needed a win and they needed some help.

Unfortunately for the Lady Blue Devils, they got neither.

The Tallmadge girls basketball team lost to Suburban League American Conference rival Aurora 38-27 Feb. 14 on the road.

With the win, the Lady Greenmen, who won their last conference championship in 1927, shared the title with Revere, which posted a 37-27 win over Barberton Feb. 15 in Bath Township. Both Aurora and the Lady Minutemen finished 10-2 in the conference.

In order for Tallmadge to get a piece of the conference championship, it needed a win over the Lady Greenmen and a Revere loss.

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Unfortunately for the Lady Blue Devils (17-5, 8-4), a conference title will have to wait another year.

"We have to focus on tournament time now," Tallmadge head coach Collin Epstein said.

Aurora (16-6), which also defeated the Lady Blue Devils 32-28 earlier in the season in Tallmadge, won thanks to its defense, which has been its staple throughout the season.

The Lady Greenmen forced 23 turnovers and frustrated the the Lady Blue Devils' offense, which never really found their rhythm after the early stages of the first quarter.

"We had problems with turnovers, shooting and passing," Epstein said.

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Aurora did most of its damage inside.

Thanks mainly to the play of senior guard/forward Syarra Sellers, the Lady Greenmen controlled the paint from start to finish.

Syarra Sellers, who, along with senior guards April Davis, Sarah Marchese and Korie Hobbs, were honored prior to the game, finished with a game-high 14 points.

Syarra Sellers, scored most of her points near the basket, as Tallmadge had no one who could keep us with her throughout the evening.

The standout forward was able to bank home a number of shots in traffic. A few of those baskets came off assists from her younger sister, sophomore guard Shayla Sellers.

After a couple of 3-pointers by Lady Blue Devils' senior guard Olivia Ayres early in the game, the Lady Greenmen eventually took control with their defense.

Tallmadge (17-5, 8-4) had trouble getting open shots and thanks to Aurora's active hands, the Lady Blue Devils constantly gave away a number of offensive possessions.

The Lady Greenmen, on the other hand, were much more careful with the ball. Aurora finished with just 7 turnovers.

"It's awesome," Lady Greenmen head coach Erika Greenberg said. "They worked hard all season and it was one of our goals to win the league. They're a great group of kids."

Aurora started to take control with a 7-0 run early in the second quarter. That spurt gave Aurora an 18-11 advantage.

Tallmadge, which had its last lead (9-8) late in the first quarter, had six turnovers and took just four shots in the second period. The Lady Greenmen, who outscored the Lady Blue Devils 10-4 in the second quarter, had a 23-15 lead at halftime.

Tallmadge was able to get a little bit more offense in the third period, but again, the Lady Blue Devils had trouble keeping the ball in their hands.

Tallmadge lost the ball six times in the period. If the Lady Blue Devils got somewhat close, Aurora always seemed to have an answer.

When junior forward Maia Aizpurua made a layup to cut Tallmadge's deficit to six (30-24), the Lady Greenmen regained control with five straight points. All five of those points came off the smooth hands of Syarra Sellers, who concluded the mini run with a tough scoop shot in traffic off the glass.

The Lady Blue Devils didn't have anything left after that.

Shayla Sellers scored 8 points and Davis and sophomore guard Haley Ross each had 7 points for Aurora.

Neither team got too many free opportunities as only eight foul shots were taken.

Ayres finished with 9 points on three 3-pointers. No other Tallmadge player scored more than five points.

"Our effort could have been better," Epstein said. "We could have shot the ball better across the board. Now we have to get ready for the second half of the season."

The Lady Blue Devils' junior varsity team finished 21-1 and 14-0 in the Suburban League after posting a 55-26 victory.

The varsity squad earned a 54-46 victory over Suburban League crossover rival Cuyahoga Falls Feb. 11 on the road.

Tallmadge had a 29-13 lead at halftime. A total of nine players scored for the lady Blue Devils. Senior forward Jamie McGhee led the way with 15 points and senior guard/forward Brin Stralka added 9 points for Tallmadge, who posted a 44-34 win in the JV contest.

Kayla Huffman led the Lady Black Tigers with a game-high 18 points.

The Lady Blue Devils are the top seed in the Uniontown Division II sectional-district tournament. They earned an opening-round bye and are scheduled to play the Mogadore Field-Canton South winner in a sectional title game Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

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