Independence’s trip to Richmond Heights on Saturday didn’t start off so well but it sure ended in a big way.
The bus carrying the Blue Devils broke down on the way to the game but once the team arrived it was all business. A strong defensive effort led to more offensive opportunities and Independence pulled out a 57-43 win over the host Spartans.
“Defensively, we had them frustrated,” said Independence coach Mike Marcinko. “We had them frustrated and ran our matchup zone and added a couple coverages to it pertaining to what they did offensively. We slid in and out of those coverages, the girls did a good job doing that on their own, and we just had them frustrated and disoriented. That gave us more opportunities to score and the gals did a great job of moving the ball and seeing the open person.”
Led by Julia Riley, who scored a game-high 13 points, four Independence players scored in double figures and another, Sophia Trombetta, finished with nine. Hallie Zumack and Nicole Ferrara both scored 11 and Halle Dorko finished with 10.
Independence’s defense set the tone in the first half.
The Blue Devils jumped out to a 16-12 lead after the first quarter then held the Spartans to just three second quarter points to lead 32-15 at halftime.
“Our girls were digging in and doing their job, matching up to what they were doing,” Marcinko said of the second quarter domination. “They knew what the calls were. They didn’t let them run what they wanted to run and (Richmond Heights) got flustered. They turned it over and we got some breakouts on some long rebounds and some turnovers by Nicole. We were running one play to set up another for Hallie. I swear she had three baseline jumpers in a row in the second quarter that she made.”
Riley scored just four of her points from the floor. The rest came at the free throw line.
“That was a lot of free throws,” Marcinko said. “They kept hammering her and she kept making her free throws.”
With the win, the Blue Devils improved to 10-8 overall with four regular season games left to play. Marcinko hopes the Blue Devils ride the momentum of the upset victory into the postseason.
“That’s always the hope,” he said. “We talked about it pregame about how we had come so close to upsetting some teams. We’ve put ourselves in position to win but we haven’t been able to get over the hump to beat a team we could upset. Yesterday everything came together.”