It is a three-team battle between Tallmadge, Revere and Aurora in girls basketball for the top spot in the Suburban League American Conference.
The Lady Blue Devils did their part to stay in contention with victories over American Conference rivals Barberton and Highland.
Host Tallmadge improved to 15-3 overall and 8-2 in the conference Feb. 1 with a 49-36 home win over the Lady Hornets at James O. Maddox Court. On Jan. 28, the Lady Blue Devils won 28-21 at Barberton. It was Tallmadge's seventh straight win. Aurora was 9-2 in the conference as of press time and Revere was 7-2.
In the win over Highland, the Lady Blue Devils led 14-8 after one quarter, 26-17 at halftime and 39-25 after three quarters. Tallmadge was up by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter.
"Our defensive effort was really good," Lady Blue Devils head coach Collin Epstein said. "Another positive was that eight of our nine rotation players all scored, so we spread it around nicely."
Senior shooting guard Olivia Ayres led the way with 11 points, including a 3-pointer and a couple of layups in transition.
Freshman Lizzie Bickar scored 8 points, including two 3-pointers.
Scoring 6 points apiece were senior center Jessica Gardella, junior point guard Sara Johnson (including a 3-pointer) and senior center Jamie McGhee.
Tallmadge scored a 41-25 victory in the junior varsity contest.
The win over Barberton featured strong defense and poor shooting on both sides. Tallmadge, which posted a 29-22 win in the JV game, led 9-3 after the first quarter, 21-11 at the half and 26-17 after three quarters.
"Fortunately, Barberton shot a little bit worse than us," Epstein said. "In the second half, they stayed in the game but couldn't get any closer than about five to seven points."
Senior guard/forward Brin Stralka scored 11 points, including a 3-pointer.
"I believe all of Brin's points came in the first half," Epstein said. "She had some nice drives, getting to the hoop and finishing."
McGhee added 6 points.
"I think the girls are confident in our chances to win the conference," Epstein said, "We've got two tough conference games left: Revere at home and at Aurora. And those are the only two conference teams that have beaten us, so it's not going to be easy."
Tallmadge is scheduled to visit Uniontown Lake Feb. 6 before returning home to play American Conference rival Revere Feb. 8. Both varsity contests are set to begin at 7:30 p.m.
The Lady Blue Devils are set to visit Suburban League crossover foe Cuyahoga Falls Feb. 11 at 2:30 p.m.