It was a disappointing conclusion to a successful season for the Tallmadge girls basketball team, especially seniors Jamie McGhee, Olivia Ayres, Rochelle Haught and Brin Stralka.

The top-seeded Lady Blue Devils lost 33-28 to third-seeded Akron Archbishop Hoban Feb. 27 in a Uniontown Division II district semifinal game at Lake High School. They finished the season with an 18-6 record.

"I knew it would be a close game," said Tallmadge head coach Collin Epstein, whose team was up by six points after one quarter and trailed by two both at halftime and at the end of three quarters (25-23). "Hoban hit some clutch free throws down the stretch."

McGhee, a forward/center, led the way with 10 points and 4 rebounds.

"Jamie played well," Epstein said. "In the first half, she was very aggressive."

Ayres, a shooting guard, scored 5 points, including a 3-pointer, Haught, a guard, scored 4 points and Stralka, a guard/forward, had 2 points and 8 rebounds.

Junior Sara Johnson scored 2 points and dished out 3 assists. Her classmate, Maia Aizpurua-Aguirre, and sophomore Andreana Gotto, each had 2 points, and freshman guard Lizzie Bickar had 1 point.

Four nights earlier, on Feb. 23 also at Lake in a sectional final, Tallmadge defeated seventh-seeded Field 42-28.

The Lady Blue Devils sprinted out to a 15-0 lead, 19-9 at the half and 35-22 after the third quarter.

"We struggled offensively in the second quarter, but came out in the third quarter and knocked down a 3-pointer by Olivia [one of two she had] and forced a couple turnovers for easy buckets," Epstein said. "Field cut it to eight or ten a couple times, but we were able to keep a double-digit lead for the most part the rest of the way.

"We played good defense like we had all season and moved the ball pretty well."

Ayres scored 14 points.

"Olivia played well on both ends of the court," the coach said.

Stralka scored 9 points, Bickar scored 7 points and Haught had 6 points.

Epstein knows he will have a very young team next year. Johnson will be the only returning starter.

"I also know we'll play a fast brand of ball," he said.

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