Defense leads Tallmadge girls basketball past Amherst Steele in opener

Roger Gordon

A change in the defensive scheme was the difference for the Tallmadge girls basketball team in its 42-39 season-opening victory over Amherst Steele Nov. 21 at James O. Maddox Court.

“We were down by about six points during the first quarter and trailed 15-12 heading into the second quarter, so we switched from a man-to-man defense to a zone defense,” Blue Devils head coach Joe Leonard said.


Tallmadge forged ahead 22-21 at halftime, and the score was tied 30-30 after three quarters.

“I felt that our kids were more comfortable, and that we did a better job rebounding, out of that zone defense, so we pretty much stuck with it the rest of the way,” said Leonard. “I was happy with our defensive performance. It was big.

“Offensively, we’re still working on getting better. We got just enough, though, on offense to get the win.

“It was two evenly matched and very young teams. Steele is going to be a very talented team in the future. They have a lot of freshmen who play very well.”

Junior center Addie Bowman led the way for Tallmadge with 17 points.

“It’s nice to see all the work Addie put in over the summer and fall pay off,” Leonard said. “She really played a physical game, set a lot of pick and rolls. She was huge down the stretch. We just had to balance giving her some rest and needing her out there on the floor. She gave us everything she had, and we needed everything she had to get the win.”

Sophomore forward Natalie Ries scored 10 points, while freshman guard/forward Sydney Becks had seven points.

“Natalie was aggressive on the drive, her shots were falling and she played good defense. She just had an overall great game,” said the coach. “It was easily the best performance I’ve seen from her including the scrimmages.

“Sydney came off the bench and had a nice game. She has been getting better and better. There was one play where she drove coast to coast with her left hand and laid the ball in with her left hand, and she’s right-handed! For anyone, let alone a freshman, to do that is impressive. It was really nice to see her have a good game.”

Sophomore guard/forward Maya Dexter scored four points, freshman guard Mia Zappola had a three-point basket and sophomore guard Lauren Teeling connected on a single free throw.

Because of a Tallmadge player having tested positive for COVID-19, the team is currently in quarantine, so there have been some changes to the schedule.

For now, the Blue Devils’ next game is scheduled to be against Suburban League American Conference rival Revere at James O. Maddox Court Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.