AURORA — Erika Greenberg has craved a full 32-minute masterpiece from her team since the season began.
So what was the verdict Saturday against a Suburban League American Conference foe?
"Not it," Greenberg said with a smile. "This is not it."
Aesthetics aside, the Aurora girls basketball team, like it has done for much of the season, finished the job.
The host Greenmen improved to 12-1 overall and 7-0 in the conference after posting a hard-fought 44-35 victory over Tallmadge.
Aurora didn’t shoot well, had some careless turnovers and may had been a little too comfortable when it built a double-digit lead in the third quarter.
In the end, a win is a win, right?
Greenberg, on the other hand, is still yearning for that picturesque display of brilliance from her talented squad.
The defending two-time American Conference champions have found themselves scraping for wins in recent weeks. Their coach would prefer to see her gifted but inconsistent squad put together more dominant performances.
"We got the win, but we need to improve," Greenberg said. "We play hard. It’s not like they’re not trying. I think, sometimes, things just don’t click; things just don’t go your way. I thought we did a better job of handling our emotions."
There were a few too-close-for-comfort moments, but the game was never really in doubt.
Nonetheless, the Blue Devils, despite a plethora of turnovers and some major foul issues to their top three players, somehow stayed in the game.
Tallmadge (4-9, 1-6) was down just two (18-16) at halftime despite losing the ball 13 times.
The Greenmen, thanks to their three-girl attack of sophomore point guard Shyanne Sellers, senior guard Shayla Sellers and diminutive freshman guard Mika Dalton, built their lead to 11 (33-22) heading into the final eight minutes.
Shyanne, who struggled with her outside shot, had five points in the quarter, and Shayla and the 5-foot-2 Dalton each had four points.
And thanks mainly to the Sellers’ sisters, the Blue Devils, who finished with 23 turnovers, had a difficult time finding their offense throughout the afternoon.
Shyanne, who finished with a team-high 14 points, had four steals and three blocks and Shayla contributed three steals as well as nine points on the offensive end.
"They’re tough as far as what they do defensively," Tallmadge head coach Collin Epstein said. "Both Sellers are so long and athletic. They block shots; they get tips and steals. We always struggle to score the ball against them because of their length. The girls around the Sellers are good players, too."
Epstein’s feisty squad didn’t throw the towel, though.
When junior guard Lizzie Bickar made a spin move and then a jumper in traffic, Tallmadge’s deficit was just three (38-35) with a little more than two minutes left.
Fittingly, though, the Blue Devils’ chances of stealing a win were diminished by a critical steal by Dalton. Forced to foul, Tallmadge sent Aurora to the chatity stripe regularly down the stretch. The Greenmen converted 6 of 8 from the charity stripe in the final 1:42 to put it away.
"We kind of put ourselves in a hole being down 10 or 12," Epstein said. "We work so hard to get out of the hole. It’s tough to get over the hump."
The Blue Devils’ big three of Bickar, junior guard Jordyn Severns and left-handed senior guard Andreana Gotto picked up two fouls in the first half. Nonetheless, Epstein decided to keep all three players on the floor.
"That’s the way our team is," Epstein said. "That’s the way it has been all season. It is what it is."
Bickar finished with a game-high 18 points. No other Tallmadge player scored more than six points. Dalton contributed 10 points for Aurora.
Greenberg will take the wins any way she can get them. Nonetheless, there is still much cleaning up to do if the Greenmen hope to extend their season deep into March.
"I think we made some bad decisions at the end of the basketball game," Greenberg said. "I think we got a little bit lazy at times.
"They closed out some close games, so I feel like they’re pretty confident in what they’re doing … maybe to a fault."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.