Monday, January 30, 2023

Berkshire pulls away from Cardinal in rivalry game

MIDDLEFIELD—Cardinal coach Jon Cummins won’t overanalyze Tuesday’s 70-54 loss to rival Berkshire and he won’t have to.

He knows his team was competitive enough to win the game but the Huskies have to improve in a few key areas to make it happen when the rivals meet for the second time this season.

“I know we can compete with them,” Cummins said. “That’s never been an issue for us. Last year was a different story, but this year I know we can compete with them. We have enough athletes to run with them and guard their guys. They have some special players in their program but I think our guys can do a good job of countering that.”

The Huskies did that for half the first quarter when they went on a 9-0 run to lead 13-5.

Berkshire responded with three straight 3-pointers and converted an and-one on the last one to take a 15-13 lead.

Cardinal never recovered.

“We came out with the game plan we wanted to do and attack them and get the ball up the floor,” Cummins said. “They ran some different things at us and we were able to counter it and get some buckets. We hit the glass hard but we just weren’t able to get rebounds when we needed them.”

The Huskies made several runs at Berkshire but the Badgers answered and often with force.

Berkshire connected on eight 3-pointers in the game. Jarett Smetana and Ryan Johnson both drained three while Emil Hess had the other two.

“A lot of those were uncontested threes too so they’re knocking down wide open threes and they’ve got the players who can do that,” Cummins said. “We’ve got to work on that and know where the shooters are at and get our hands up and close down, all the basics again.”

The Huskies also struggled at the free throw line, where they connected on just 12 of 21 shots from the line. Meanwhile, Berkshire was 18 for 24.

“It seems our Achilles Heel is making free throws,” Cummins said. “That puts you in a bad situation when in the first half you’re missing eight free throws. If you just make five of them you’re a little closer and it puts the pressure on them.”

Cardinal pulled down 25 rebounds in the game but had trouble converting its 11 offensive boards into points.

“It seemed like that was the story the whole game,” Cummins said. “We’d get down there in the right positions but we couldn’t finish the second and third rebounds we were getting. It would take us four opportunities to shoot and we still weren’t getting the bucket. The ball wasn’t bouncing our way. It’s nothing that Berkshire didn’t do; we just didn’t convert on the offensive end.”

Craig Kaser led Cardinal with 13 points and Luke Timas and Jake Francis also score in double figures with 10 points each. Smetana led the Badgers with 28 points while Johnson had 16 and Hess finished with 11.

Now the Huskies can circle Jan. 16 on their calendars. That’s the date they’ll travel to Berkshire for the rematch.

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Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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