TALLMADGE: Wadsworth’s balanced scoring attack was too much for Tallmadge to handle, and the Grizzlies cruised past the injury-riddled Blue Devils 61-39 Friday night at Tallmadge High School.
Both teams came out sluggish offensively in the first half and struggled to get anything going.
“I’m not sure if it was just one of those nights where it wasn’t a big crowd, Christmas break had just started, and we came out like ... we were on break,” Wadsworth coach Mike Schmeltzer said.
Tallmadge’s bad luck this season continued. The Blue Devils, already without junior point guard Nate Bickar and senior Anthony Gotto for a couple of weeks because of injuries, had to play Friday night without a third key contributor, senior Bryon Cook, who will be unavailable for a few days with a minor injury.
“We just got dominated in every phase of the game,” Tallmadge coach Aaron Hinkle said. “It’s pretty simple; I think everybody saw that. Physically, mentally, everything.”
The Grizzlies (3-4, 3-2 Suburban League) fed the ball inside and then forced a flurry of turnovers to lead 27-13 at halftime. Junior forward Kyle Prunty scored a team-high 14 points, and sophomore guard Austin White added 11 points. White has scored in double figures every game this season. Junior Barry Fernholz finished the night with nine points. Senior Nathan Pound had eight points.
“Our scoring has been very balanced,” Schmeltzer said. “Barry tonight, he needed that one. He’s a great player that needed a little boost tonight and he played very well.”
Wadsworth has been working on feeding the ball inside to complement its shooters, something that was keyed in Friday night.
“We’re trying to stress inside-out play because we have guys who can shoot, we have good post players who can score when we get it in there,” Schmeltzer said. “Post touches and ball reversal, that’s what we’ve been stressing and it’s starting to come around. We have a long way to go but we’re starting to get there.
Tallmadge (1-5, 1-4) never looked comfortable on offense, scoring six points in the first quarter and seven points in the second quarter. Part of it was the subtraction of three players in the rotation, and part of it was a stingy zone defense from Wadsworth.
“It’s funny because normally my whole career we’ve been primarily a man-to-man team,” Schmeltzer said. “This team seems to be more comfortable playing some zone. They’re playing every defense we’re running as hard as they would man, and I think that’s why it’s been so successful.”
Tallmadge was led again by sophomore Andrew Francesconi, who scored a game-high 19 points. Sophomore forward John Rensel added nine points. Francesconi wasn’t as aggressive as in Tallmadge’s last game against Nordonia. Hinkle said Francesconi was focused on including others in the offense and might have passed up some shot attempts for himself.
“I think he passed up some shots, and that might have been my fault,” Hinkle said. “I talk to him about he’s had some really good games and some games where he’s forced it a little bit, so I think he was trying to get the other guys involved.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.