KENT — The present has been undeniably rough for the Rough Riders.
The future appears brighter.
As for the Blue Devils, the present was worth savoring Wednesday.
The Tallmadge girls basketball team raced to an 11-0 lead and led by double digits most of the way for a 60-34 victory over host Roosevelt in a Suburban League American Conference showdown.
“We’ve been moving the ball a lot better,” Blue Devils head coach Collin Epstein said. “We had a real tough stretch of games, four games on the road, league games and one at Ravenna.
“We were playing well, but we were just playing really good teams, so we didn’t see (it reflected in) the wins and losses, but we’re playing much better basketball now.”
While Tallmadge (5-11, 2-7) dominated play, the Rough Riders (1-16, 1-8) showed some positive signs for the future.
Roosevelt sophomore Kassidy Fischer drew her team within 13-4 with a lightning-quick pull-up jumper from just inside the arc, but Tallmadge sophomore Gia Currey answered with a 3-pointer to end the first quarter.
After Rough Riders’ sophomore Makhia Friedman started the second with a three to close within 16-7, Tallmadge junior Lizzie Bickar blasted right through the Roosevelt defense for a layup and fellow junior Jordyn Severns hit a 3-pointer for a 21-7 edge.
The Blue Devils led by double digits the rest of the night, with junior Lizzie Bickar (16 points), Severns (14) and Andreana Gotto (15) seemingly turning any missed Rough Riders’ shot into a transition opportunity.
“We watched film from the last time we played them and we got some run-outs against them the first game,” Epstein said. “We just didn’t finish as much as we did (Wednesday). We stressed that before (the game). We rebound it clean, we can get it and go, so we did a good job.
“Our point guard, Lizzie, did a great job getting it up to Jordyn and Gotto and they finished, got some and-ones. It was good to see them run out. When you don’t have to play half-court offense, it’s always nice.”
Gotto was able to generate buckets for her teammates with her slashing cuts through the paint and had a couple of nifty underhanded finishes around the rim.
“She has some nice touch around the hoop,” Epstein said. “Sometimes, you’re like, ‘How’s she going to finish? How’s she going to score?’ It ends up kind of rolling around and falls in. It’s nice to see. She has really gotten a lot better this year finishing with her right hand.”
While Tallmadge blasted off time and time again for buckets, Roosevelt struggled to score.
No one had more than six points for the Rough Riders Wednesday.
Roosevelt’s offensive struggles were partly due to 6-foot-1 Blue Devils’ freshman Addie Bowman, who had five blocks in the first quarter alone.
“We stick her down there and we run a 1-3-1,” Epstein said. “We just tell her anything block to block is hers, rebounds, blocks. We don’t want her going outside the paint at all. She’s long and she gets a lot of (contact on the) ball a lot of times. We tell her just straight up and down, because even if she does that, she’s hard to score on.”