The Tallmadge boys basketball team fell to 3-6 after losing to host Woodridge 75-67 in double overtime Saturday in Peninsula.
"It was a wild game with a lot of swings," Blue Devils head coach Bill Johnson said. "They [the Bulldogs] got up early in the first and we were definitely a little sluggish."
Tallmadge outscored the Bulldogs 15-6 in the second quarter to take a 27-23 lead at halftime. However, Woodridge had a strong third quarter to pull ahead. The Bulldogs outscored the Blue Devils 23-16 in the period.
"They [the Bulldogs] came out with guns blazing in the second half," Johnson said. "They went on an 8-0 run and took the lead very quickly. We didn't handle their pressure well to start and gave them a few easy buckets."
Trailing by one with 28 seconds left, Danny Kurko tied the game by making 1-of-2 free throws.
"It was pretty much back and forth," Johnson said. "We ran a baseline out-of-bounds’ play and Danny Kurko got fouled. We did a good job defending and they threw up about a 25-footer at the horn that came up short."
Tallmadge’s Brandon Heigelmann made two free throws with 21 seconds left in the first overtime to tie the game. Woodridge missed a shot at the buzzer.
"After a made layup for them, we had some issues inbounding the ball," Johnson said. "A turnover caused them to be able to hit a 3 and take the lead by two."
Heigelmann led the Blue Devils with 21 points and Luke Thomas scored 15 points for Tallmadge.
"Luke Thomas was a warrior out there," Johnson said. "That kid just gives everything he has in his body. He probably played 38 minutes after playing 29 the night previous and he never takes a possession off on either end of the floor. He was a huge reason we were even in the game."
Kurko and Ty Hurst scored 11 points apiece for the Blue Devils.
"We got a big lift early from Ty Hurst," Johnson said. "He came in and gave us eight quick points in the first half.
"Ty is really coming into his own. We don't really call many plays for him, but his basketball IQ allows him to just find spots to score and really help us on that end. He brings a real energy to our offense that has sparked us at times."
Johnson also was pleased with the efforts of Kurko, Ethan Taylor and Nick Lambacher.
"Danny and Ethan continue to play so hard in the paint," Johnson said. "They battled inside on the glass and saved us a few possessions that were crucial to staying in the game.
"I give Nick a lot of credit. He struggled early but really bounced back late and made two key free throws for us late in the first overtime."
Around this time last season, Tallmadge started off 4-8 before making a run to the Canton Division II district title game. Can a similar turnaround be in store for the Blue Devils this winter?
Time will tell, but Johnson likes his team’s tenacity.
"Overall, we play so hard and our guys leave it out there, but we just haven't found a way to get it done in a few of those close games," he said. "Ultimately, that falls on me to get the guys ready for these situations.
"We will continue to work and try to get better at end-of-game scenarios. Sometimes the only way to learn how to win is to win. Sounds crazy, but it’s the truth.
"I know our guys are going to continue to work. They know nothing else but to keep working and I'm excited to get back in the gym with them and find a way to get better and win some of these close ones."