TALLMADGE — It wasn’t particularly pretty.
Nevertheless, the Tallmadge girls basketball team will take it.
The sixth-seeded Blue Devils advanced to a Uniontown Division II sectional title game after routing 11th-seeded Akron Springfield 48-27 Saturday at James O. Maddox Court.
With the win, Tallmadge is scheduled to play third-seeded Marlington in a sectional title contest next Thursday in Alliance. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Blue Devils (14-9) committed 26 turnovers, including 11 in the first quarter. Fortunately for Tallmadge, the Spartans also had some major ball-handling issues. Springfield lost the ball a whopping 37 times.
Regardless, Blue Devils’ first-year head coach Brett Bickar couldn’t help but feel a bit uneasy about his team’s performance.
In other words, if this was a painting by Vincent Van Gogh, it was more like "The Potato Eaters" rather than "The Starry Night."
"It’s all we talked about at halftime," Bickar said. "We have to take care of the ball. Our decision-making has to improve. Some games, it’s there; some games, it’s not. In the second half, it was much better."
Despite all of its miscues, Tallmadge was in control much of the way. The Blue Devils led 17-6 at the end of the first quarter and 31-16 at halftime.
Springfield’s lack of offense certainly didn’t hurt Tallmadge. The Spartans (3-19) missed 33 of their 42 shot attempts. They also made just 7-of-15 from the foul line.
Tallmadge, on the other hand, was a bit more efficient. In fact, the Blue Devils’ top three scorers outscored Springfield by themselves.
Freshman guard Natalie Ries led the way with 14 points. Senior point guard Lizzie Bickar contributed 12 points and four steals and senior guard/forward Jill Catalano had nine points and seven rebounds. Sophomore post Addie Bowman added eight rebounds for the Blue Devils, who had a 30-21 edge on the glass.
"In the third quarter, we kept the floor space better, which opened up some more driving lanes," Coach Bickar said. "We talked about a few individuals and what they needed to do in the second half because they were making some of the wrong reads in the first half.
"They were able to take the coaching and put it into the game in the third quarter. We got some easy baskets, some easy drives, some easy kicks, some easy layups. That worked out well."
Tia Gardiner led Springfield with eight points.
Tallmadge now turns its attention to Marlington, which the Blue Devils defeated 49-47 in a sectional semifinal contest last year.
Let’s just say a performance like the one it had Saturday won’t be recommended if Tallmadge wants to extend its season.
"They’re athletic and they’re quick and they move the ball well," Coach Bickar said of the Dukes. "They’re very well-coached. They play well on both ends of the floor.
"It’s going to be a very difficult game, but if we play like we can, we can definitely compete there and give ourselves a chance to win."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_Gannett.