COPLEY TWP.: A young Copley team that has already nearly matched its win total from last season fought hard at home against Suburban League rival Tallmadge but came up short in a 37-32 loss on Saturday.
Junior guard Kirsten Lightel, who went 6-for-7 from 3-point range in Tallmadge’s previous game against Nordonia, got the Blue Devils (4-0, 2-0 Suburban) going with two early 3-pointers and eight of her team’s first 11 points. She led all scorers with 13.
Lightel also provided a key moment with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter when she answered a 3-pointer by Copley sophomore guard Claire Schreiner with one of her own to boost Tallmadge’s lead to 11.
Leading 18-12 at the half, the Blue Devils set the tone defensively with a full-court press that generated several scores off turnovers to begin the second half.
“We played how we’re able to play to start the third quarter,” Tallmadge coach Bill Johnson said. “Our defensive effort was fantastic, both guarding the ball and creating problems to disrupt what they wanted to do offensively.”
The Tallmadge press was fronted by junior point guard Kelsey Rice, who was very active generating turnovers that led to scores as well as facilitating the offense on the other end of the court.
“Kelsey is a hard matchup, she’s long and athletic and creates problems with her length,” Johnson said. “She also creates a lot of our offense even without scoring.”
Rice finished with six points, all in the second half. When Copley cut the lead to six with three minutes to go in the game, Rice came up with back-to-back steals, both of which led to baskets on which she assisted.
“When things started to break down a little bit, we regrouped as a team and took over,” Rice said.
The Indians (2-2, 0-2), a young team that started three sophomores, fought hard in the second half to stay in the game but in the end it came down to maturity and execution.
“We missed easy opportunities late in the game that we need to convert on,” Copley coach Darryl Anderson Sr. said. “We play a totally different style than we played last year with our young backcourt. The nice thing is they will grow up, but in the meantime it’s frustrating when you’re close and don’t execute.
“You can’t win when you dig yourself a hole and let the game get away from you.”
The Indians, who were 3-18 last season, were also missing freshman guard Myriah Hoffman, which Anderson attributed to some of his team’s offensive struggles.
Copley will look to get back on track when it visits Green at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tallmadge will try to continue its perfect start to the season at Highland at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
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