High school girls basketball: Tallmadge defeats Coventry in sectional semifinal

Ashley Bastock
Akron Beacon Journal
Tallmadge's Maya Dexter, left, reaches for a loose ball against Coventry's Gabby Dick during the first half of a Division II sectional basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Tallmadge, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

The Tallmadge girls basketball team is still alive in the postseason after topping Coventry in a Division II sectional semifinal game on Wednesday night.

The Blue Devils (7-6) just came off of a COVID-19 pause last week and only had two final regular-season games to prepare before the 52-21 win. 

Tallmadge was led by Sydney Becks' 15 points and Maya Dexter's 10. They shot 37% (21 of 57) from the field as a team. 

Tallmadge's Ana Crangle hands the ball off to Maya Dexter, right, under pressure from Coventry's Kylie Goodlet, rear, during the first half of a Division II sectional basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Tallmadge, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]
Tallmadge's Gia Currey, left, makes a layup against Coventry's Hannah Ragland during the second half of a Division II sectional basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Tallmadge, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

Coventry (6-17) got a team-high 11 points from Cassidy Karakis. The Comets made just eight field goals (8-of-42) and did not make a 3-pointer. 

Two players scored in double figures for Tallmadge, but it was the Blue Devils' defense that put the game away early. Running a full-court trapping press in part allowed Tallmadge to force 35 turnovers.  

Tallmadge also had a 35-17 advantage on the boards, getting plenty of second-chance looks. 

Coventry's Hannah Ragland, right, falls to the floor as she takes the ball down the court against Tallmadge's Lexi Gray during the first half of a Division II sectional basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Tallmadge, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]
Tallmadge's Mia Zappola, center, puts up a shot against a host of Coventry defenders during the second half of a Division II sectional basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Tallmadge, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

The Blue Devils led 6-5 to start the game, then went on a 10-0 run in the final three minutes to make that a double-digit advantage. 

They also started the second quarter on a 10-2 spurt as four different players scored. The Blue Devils led by as many as 19 in the quarter and went into the locker room with a 31-15 advantage. 

At the break, Tallmadge coach Joe Leonard said he stressed to his team the importance of continued pressure on the ball.

"I didn't like the fact that defensively we were allowing too many drives to the basket," he said. "So we shored that up, and then just being patient on offense. We went with that press which definitely worked there for us for awhile. I just told them that the first three minutes of that quarter were big and I really challenged them and they came out and responded."

Becks scored seven of her points in the third quarter and Ashlyn Severns added five. Two free throws by Becks in the waning seconds gave Tallmadge a 31-point lead (49-18) going into the final eight minutes. 

Tallmadge will play in the sectional final at 1 p.m. Saturday at sixth-seeded Gates Mills Gilmour Academy.

While Coventry's season ends, Comets coach Trae Wright said he is happy they made it to this point in a season defined by COVID-19.

"We got lucky," he said.  "We made it. We played more games than a lot of schools. We're young so we needed to play. I didn't care who we played, I was telling my AD all the time to pick up someone else, pick up someone else. So he did, and sometimes we got our butts beat, but we played."