After falling to rival Cuyahoga Heights in Friday’s semifinal round of the Joe LaBella Tournament, Independence responded with a 46-40 win over visiting Trinity on the consolation game on Saturday.
The Blue Devils outscored the Trojans in the fourth quarter, 15-8.
“We hit our free throws down the stretch and we defended and rebounded with all five,” Independence coach Hugh McMahon said. “It’s the third really close game that we’ve had and I thought we executed really well.”
Independence had several opportunities to pull ahead in the final minute of its 56-51 loss to Cuyahoga Heights on Friday.
The Blue Devils learned from those mistakes.
“The night before, we were right there at the end with less than a minute to go and we couldn’t put the ball in the hoop,” McMahon said. “I was really proud of the guys with how they held their composure and knocked down their free throws and rebounded the ball to secure the win.”
Independence opened the season with a 68-44 win over the Trojans on Nov. 30. Facing them for a second time in a month following an emotional loss to a rival presented an interesting challenge.
“It’s the second time we faced Trinity this year and it’s always tough to beat somebody after you’ve played them once,” McMahon said. “They were prepared for some of the things that we do and I thought we adjusted at halftime, both our Xs and Os and our approach and attitude towards how we wanted to do things. I felt we played really well in the second half.”
Connor Synek, who scored a team-high 13 points, helped the Blue Devils match the Trojans with 23 points in the first half.
Trinity edged the Blue Devils in the third quarter and took a 32-31 lead into the fourth.
“I was more concerned with how we were playing at the time,” McMahon said. “We missed a few shots and we were really sluggish coming out of the Christmas break. We didn’t play that well against Cuyahoga Heights, so I was just looking for us to do some simple things and some fundamental things well and I thought we picked that up in the second half.”
The Blue Devils made the most of their attempts at the free throw line and made the shots they missed the previous night in the closing minutes to seal the win.
Jamie McMahon added nine points, Jake Mitrisin pitched in with six and Thomas Ceculski, Adam Miklovic and Wyatt Flynn each scored four. Eric Mitrisin and Connor Blum both contributed three points in the win.
“Eight guys scored a few points here and a few points there, which makes us a dangerous team as long as we’re hitting the open guy and the open guy can knock it down,” Coach McMahon said. “It was a good win to restart the second half of the season.”