KENT — He’s the type of person who can light up a room.
If you’re around him, you can’t help but notice his positive energy and infectious enthusiasm.
However, Bill Johnson showed a rare side of himself Tuesday evening in Kent.
Let’s just say the usually pleasant second-year Tallmadge head boys basketball coach was a bit out of character.
In other words, think the cantankerous Archie Bunker instead of the infinitely joyful Guido Orefice.
"We’re not good," Johnson said bluntly.
Sadly for Johnson, the Blue Devils did little to refute their crotchety coach’s scathing remark.
Very little, as a matter of fact.
Tallmadge fell to 6-11 overall and 3-6 in the Suburban League American Conference after losing to host Kent Roosevelt 51-33.
The Blue Devils, who lost to the Rough Riders 56-48 in overtime earlier in the season at James O. Maddox Court, were outscored 29-10 in the second half.
Tallmadge was particularly woeful in the fourth quarter as Roosevelt (10-8, 5-5) finished the game with a 12-3 spurt.
In a nutshell, it was a repugnant performance in every way, shape or form. And it left the Blue Devils’ normally exuberant coach completely perplexed.
"I wish I had a reason for [it]," Johnson said. "I don’t know it. Shots didn’t go in. They made a couple; we missed a couple."
The Blue Devils missed quite a few, actually.
Tallmadge converted just 12 of its 41 shots, including a hideous 3-for-16 effort from beyond the 3-point arc.
"I thought we had a couple stretches where we didn’t play great offensively," Johnson said. "For the most part, we got pretty good shots. They didn’t make many."
The Rough Riders, on the other hand, were far more efficient. Especially their unflappable backcourt duo.
Senior Zachary Common and junior Kristian Daetwyler gave the Blue Devils fits throughout the evening.
Common scored 10 points and also dished out eight assists and Daetwyler scored a team-high 13 points. Sophomore guard Jayden Reynolds also scored 10 points for Roosevelt, which opted to slow the game down considerably with an offensive strategy that bordered on prehistoric.
This type of game plan wasn’t the least bit surprising to Johnson. And that’s exactly why he was a bit crabby Tuesday evening.
"That’s not the problem," Johnson said. "If a team scores 51, we should win. That’s a difficult team to play. They want to play their style and their pace and we didn’t execute what we wanted to do."
Senior guard Brandon Heigelmann scored a team-high 13 points for Tallmadge, which desperately tried to turn the sloth-like pace into one that mimicked a cheetah.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, their obsessive need for speed was ruthlessly thwarted by an endless array of potholes.
"We tried to force them into some things," Johnson said. "I thought we did defensively, but we also didn’t do a good enough job of forcing the tempo that we wanted."
The head-scratching defeat was Tallmadge’s second double-digit setback in four days.
The host Blue Devils also lost to a talented Boardman squad 71-49 last Friday.
Tallmadge led 20-17 after the first eight minutes, but the Spartans (15-1) took control from there. Boardman outscored the Blue Devils 38-18 in the middle two quarters.
"We really executed well early," Johnson said. "We handled their pressure and got great looks. We also defended well and made them take tough shots."
Derrick Anderson scored a game-high 28 points for the Spartans and Tommy Fryda and Ethan Andersen added 16 and 12 points, respectively, for Boardman, which ended the first half with a 12-1 run to take a 34-26 lead at halftime.
"We hung around for awhile, but they made some shots and it got to 15 most of the third," Johnson said. "They are really good at what they do. They wear you down with their pressure."
Sophomore guard Kyle Ries led Tallmadge with 14 points and Heigelmann and senior forward Danny Kurko contributed 12 and nine points, respectively, for the Blue Devils.
"I’m proud of the way we competed," Johnson said. "That was high-level high school basketball and we really showed how good we can be."
Unfortunately, it was a completely different story in Kent. If Tallmadge wants to turn the corner, a performance like the one Tuesday won’t cut it.
It certainly didn’t for the Blue Devils’ head man.
Like a compassionate, imaginative Jewish Italian bookshop owner in a 1997 Oscar-winning film, Johnson yearns for a time when "Life is Beautiful" again on North Munroe Road.
"That was something I thought we’d really build on," Johnson said of last Friday’s loss. "[Tuesday], we definitely took a little bit of a step back. I’m disappointed and it’s on me."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.