Tallmadge -- Basketball is the kind of sport where swings in form can easily occur in 24-hour periods.

The Tallmadge and Stow-Munroe Falls girls basketball teams proved that point Dec. 28 in the final of the inaugural Tallmadge Holiday Classic.

About 24 hours earlier, Tallmadge had handed Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy a 30-point loss, while Stow had looked very rusty in a win over Kent Roosevelt.

However, the two teams saw their respective forms switch in the final, resulting in a huge 57-29 win for the Bulldogs.

Stow improved to 8-2, while Tallmadge dropped to 7-2 as of press time.

Stow coach Bob Podges said he expected his team to pick it up after shaking the rust off the previous night.

"Basketball is a game where you've got to be in the gym every day to stay sharp," Podges said. "We spent an hour in the gym this morning walking through some things. This group responds very well to coaching."

Tallmadge coach Bill Johnson was a bit exasperated by the result.

"We didn't do the little things tonight and it showed," Johnson said. "This is the first time all season that we didn't play well on defense. I don't think we're 28 points worse than they are, but they probably are better than us."

If Tallmadge's usually stingy defense lapsed, Stow's was sharp the entire night.

Podges made it clear Stow's top priority was keep Tallmadge point guard Kelsey Rice under wraps. He gave the assignment to sophomore Sam Shaver to man mark her.

The result: Rice scored only three points in the game and, more importantly, was unable to get Tallmadge's fast-break game going.

Podges lauded his stopper after the game.

"Sam is quick, has long arms and a really good head for the game," Podges said. "She is the best on-ball defender that we've ever had."

With Rice having Shaver in her hip pocket, Tallmadge was limited to single-digits scoring in every quarter.

Tallmadge opened the game by scoring the first four points of the contest, but Stow finished the first quarter on a 15-4 run.

It was a glimpse of things to come for the Blue Devils, as Stow guard Abbie Lawson scored all seven of her points in the first quarter.

Tallmadge was able to cut the deficit to 19-15, thanks to a three-pointer from Rice.

It was at that point, however, that Stow effectively put the game away.

A 15-0 run from the Bulldogs ended the first quarter, as Shaver and Christina Vaughn each hit three-pointers. When their outside game wasn't working, Stow was able to use some nice inside passing to set up layups.

"Their guards were really quick," Johnson said. "Any offense that can get to the basket easily is going to be successful."

Against the small Tallmadge lineup, Stow's front court had a big night. Center Maddie Baer put her 6-foot-2 frame to good use, scoring 10 points and 9 rebounds, while forward Danielle Tiller also had 10 points. Shaver finished with nine.

Up 34-15 at halftime, Stow's defense kept up its pressure, while dominating the Blue Devils on the boards.

"One of our big things we needed to do tonight was rebound and we just didn't get it done," Johnson said.

Despite the efforts of Tallmadge forward Mary Ryan -- who scored all of Tallmadge's third-quarter points -- Stow pushed the lead to 45-21 after three.

Ryan led the Blue Devils with nine points.

Podges emptied his bench midway through the fourth quarter, but the onslaught just kept coming. Stow led by as many as 30 late in the fourth.

Meanwhile, Stow was set to host Massillon Jackson Jan. 3 before a critical Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division with Solon Jan. 5. Results were not available at press time.

The Bulldogs were set to face Holy Name at home Jan. 9 at 7 p.m., followed by a trip to Medina Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

E-mail: mleonard@recordpub.com

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