BRIMFIELD - As is the case in many high school basketball openers, neither team walked off the court with puffed-out chests after the Tallmadge boys defeated Field 74-64 Friday night in Brimfield.
The Falcons trailed throughout but fought until the bitter end, trimming a 23-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to 10 in the closing seconds, but never really threatened after falling behind by double digits in the second quarter.
"It's probably a typical game one of the season, just a lot of kids that are anxious to go play game one," Blue Devils head coach Mike Bluey said. "We have kids that haven't had a ball in their hands in game action for a handful of months due to fall sports, so you see a lot of those things that have to play their way out.
"You just need repititions. You can replicate as much as you want in practice, but game minutes are game minutes."
Tallmadge (1-0) was in control the entire way, but never really sustained sharpness on both ends of the floor for a long enough period of time to run away with the win.
"We certainly have to play better," Bluey said. "We had far too many turnovers to be able to compete with the better teams in our league that we're going to see.
"We'll take the win and we'll go home and keep on working to get better."
The marquee performers for both teams started off the season with a bang.
Blue Devils' senior star Matthew Francesconi scored 14 of his game-high 29 points in the third quarter, while Field standout senior Andrew Johnson buried four second-half 3-pointers on his way to a 24-point night. While both players were effective, they did need a large number of shot attempts to reach those lofty numbers.
In last season's matchup, Tallmadge raced to a 32-10 lead after the first quarter. This time, the Falcons were able to hang around, trailing just 21-15 at the first break and 36-26 at the half.
Francesconi's big third quarter helped the Blue Devils push the lead to 56-40 after three quarters.
Tallmadge added the first seven points of the final frame to put the contest out of reach.
Sophomore guard Caleb Francis tacked on 17 points for Field (0-1), hitting 11 of 13 free throws. Fellow sophomore Max Adelman added 7 points from the forward spot, all in the second half.
Sophomore Brandon Heigelman scored 14 points for the Blue Devils, nine coming in the final quarter, while senior Seth Gergely added 10 points.
"We'll take a win in game one and go from there," said Bluey. "A lot of things to work on. Film is going to show us an awful lot."
Tallmadge is scheduled to visit Ellet Tuesday in Akron. The Blue Devils are set to host Suburban League National Conference rival Aurora Dec. 8. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. both days.