AURORA — Erika Greenberg has craved a full 32-minute masterpiece from her team since the season began.
So what was the verdict Saturday against a Suburban League American Conference foe?
“Not it,” Greenberg said with a smile. “This is not it.”
Aesthetics aside, the Aurora girls basketball team, like it has done for much of the season, finished the job in a 44-35 win over Tallmadge.
Aurora (12-1, 7-0) didn’t shoot well, had some careless turnovers and may have been a little too comfortable when it built a double-digit lead in the third quarter.
“We got the win, but we need to improve,” Greenberg said. “We play hard. It’s not like they’re not trying. I think, sometimes, things just don’t click; things just do go your way. I thought we did a better job of handling our emotions.”
There were a few too-close-for-comfort moments, but the game was never really in doubt.
Nonetheless, the Blue Devils, despite a plethora of turnovers and some major foul issues with their top three players, somehow stayed in the game.
Tallmadge (4-9, 1-6) trailed just 18-16 at halftime despite losing the ball 13 times.
The Greenmen, thanks to their three-girl attack of sophomore point guard Shyanne Sellers, senior guard Shayla Sellers and diminutive freshman guard Mika Dalton, built their lead to 11 (33-22) heading into the final eight minutes.
Shyanne Sellers, who struggled with her outside shot, had five points in the quarter, and Shayla Sellers and the 5-foot-2 Dalton each had four points.
And thanks mainly to the Sellers’ sisters, the Blue Devils, who finished with 23 turnovers, struggled to find their offense throughout the game.
Shyanne Sellers, who finished with a team-high 14 points, had four steals and three blocks and Shayla Sellers contributed three steals as well as nine points on the offensive end.
“They’re tough as far as what they do defensively,” Tallmadge coach Collin Epstein said. “Both Sellers are so long and athletic. The block shots; they get tips and steals. We always struggle to score the ball against them because of their length. The girls around the Sellers are good players, too.”
Epstein’s feisty squad didn’t throw in the towel, though.
When junior guard Lizzie Bickar made a spin move and then a jumper in traffic, Tallmadge’s deficit was just 38-35 with a little more than two minutes left.
Fittingly, the Blue Devils’ chances of stealing a win were diminished by a crucial steal by Dalton. With Tallmadge forced to foul, the Greenmen converted 6-of-8 from the foul line in the final 1:42 to put it away.
“We kind of put ourselves in a hole being down 10 or 12,” Epstein said. “We work so hard to get out of the hole. It’s tough to get over the hump.”
The Blue Devils’ big three of Bickar, junior guard Jordyn Severns and senior guard Andreana Gotto picked up two fouls in the first half. Nonetheless, Epstein decided to keep all three players on the floor.
“That’s the way our team is,” Epstein said. “That’s the way it has been all season. It is what it is.”
Bickar finished with a game-high 18 points. No other Tallmadge player scored more than six points. Dalton contributed 10 points for Aurora.