MOGADORE: Junior Kelsey Rice came up with two key plays for the Blue Devils in the final 20 seconds in a one-point game at Mogadore, and Tallmadge took down the Wildcats 44-41 on Monday night.
Down 41-40 in the closing moments, Rice took a pass on the outside, drove to her left and hit a floater from about 12 feet, giving Tallmadge a 42-41 advantage. At the other end of the floor, Mogadore tried to take the ball inside but Rice swiped it away with seven seconds left. Senior Leah Makuch came away with the ball, was fouled and made both free throws. Mogadore’s only shot was in a half-court heave, which came up just short.
“In the fourth quarter, we kinda woke up,” Tallmadge coach Bill Johnson said. “I was happy with how we played in the fourth quarter and how we finished it off. For the mistakes we made, we had some players come up and make big plays.”
Tallmadge (15-6) led the entire first half and entered halftime up 22-16. Mogadore switched to a man-to-man defense, something the Wildcats haven’t done very often this season, and forced five turnovers in the third quarter to take a 34-33 lead heading into the fourth.
“In the first half, they outworked us,” Johnson said. “That’s the biggest thing we talked about at halftime. When you’re in the other person’s gym, you gotta be the aggressor. ... I think sometimes when you try hard to pick up the energy, you overdo it. We couldn’t quite get in the flow of the game.”
In the fourth quarter, neither team ever had a lead bigger then three points and Mogadore’s biggest lead all night was one point, which they had at four different times. The latest came with 40 seconds to go when Mackenzie Williams grabbed an offensive rebound and dropped in the put-back layup. Rice, who finished the night with nine points and three steals, then put the game away on the game’s final two possessions.
For 8-13 Mogadore, it was a promising showing to take Tallmadge to the brink.
“We went to man early in this game and I challenged them to step it up, and they did,” Mogadore coach Tom Pollock said. “We just needed a couple of shots to fall at the end. But their effort was great. If we play like that, we’ll be all right. We might be able to win a couple playoff games if we play that hard.”
Makuch led Tallmadge with 14 points, including 10 in the first half, pacing the Blue Devils offense. On the defensive end, it was Rice’s length that caused troubles for Mogadore.
“Lately, Hallie Allen has been doing a good job when Kelsey’s been in foul trouble,” Johnson said. “When Kelsey’s on the floor, it gives us an edge on both the offensive and defensive ends, because not only does Kelsey cause length problems but Hallie and Demi [DeLorenzo] can get up and pressure the guards, and that’s what lets the whole defense do their thing.”
For Mogadore, Naomi Pollock and Ashley Berker each had 10 points, leading the team.
“Give Mogadore credit — they’re small, they’re quick, they get into gaps and we had some trouble defending that,” he said. “Once we switched to screens later in the game, we did a better job of not letting them in there. But they made shots and executed well enough to keep them in the game, and they never quit.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.