Defense has been the calling card for Tallmadge girls basketball ever since Bill Johnson took over the program.

So, when Johnson led his team back to his alma mater Jan. 16, he was interested in continuing that trend.

"When you look at it, it's fun to be coach in the gym that you played in," Johnson said. "But it's not about us coaches. It's about the players."

Those players showed off their prowess as Tallmadge handed Falls a 42-28 loss Jan. 16 at Falls.

The game followed a 60-31 road loss for Falls at Elyria Jan. 12.

Falls dropped to 2-12, 1-4 in Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division as of press time.

"I don't think we played our best game by any means," Johnson said. "We were 16-of-44 [36 percent] from the field. It was out first road game in about a month, so that made it a bit of an adjustment."

Falls coach Joe Nowak said his team was game, even in the loss.

"I thought from start to finish, I was really pleased with out effort," Nowak said. "I thought we played as hard as we possibly could. One bad quarter got us, that being the second quarter. We just can't afford to have a stretch where we don't score.

The second quarter did prove decisive. With the game tied at 7 after one quarter, Tallmadge outscored the Black Tigers 14-2 in the second and were never threatened thereafter.

"We did a lot more trapping in the second quarter," Johnson said. "Making them have to pick it up a bit led to them throwing the ball to us."

"All year, they've played well on defense," Nowak said. "They were able to get a couple turnovers off that pressure. We just needed some shots to fall as well. It gave them some momentum. They're one of the best defensive teams we've seen all year."

Johnson praised the play of forward Mary Ryan, who returned to the Tallmadge lineup after missing the Cloverleaf game due to a concussion.

Ryan led the Blue Devils with 12 points, while fellow forward Leah Makuch added 11 points.

"I really like where her game is at right now," Johnson said of Ryan, who shot 5-of-6 in the win. "This year, she's just playing the way she knows how to."

Falls was led by 12 points from Mary Messner, but no other Black Tiger scored more than four points on the night.

If Nowak was happy with his team's effort against the Blue Devils, that was not the case against Elyria.

"Last week, [Elyria] did a good job of taking advantage from the get go," Nowak said. "We were battling up hill the whole time."

Elyria took leads of 19-10 after one quarter and 39-18 at the half, giving Falls no chance of a comeback.

Forward Jasmine Eaker led the Black Tigers with nine points and five rebounds.

Falls was set to take on Akron Ellett Jan. 19, but results were not available at press time.

The Black Tigers will return home to face Brush Jan. 26. Varsity tip time is set for 2:30 p.m.


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