Sunday, October 2, 2022

Blue Devils earn big win over Berkshire

Independence bounced back from a one-point loss to Padua on Saturday with a dominating 71-40 win over visiting Berkshire on Tuesday.

The Blue Devils, who improved to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division, outscored the Badgers 27-8 in the first quarter.

“Our guys were itching to get back out there and play a game. We felt we let one slip away the other night at Padua in losing by a point,” Independence coach Hugh McMahon said. “We played hard but I thought there were things we could do better. Tonight, we came out and got after it. We were much better fundamentally sound on defense and in our execution in the half court.”

Using an active defense that led to several Berkshire turnovers, eight different Independence players scored in the opening quarter.

“We put a lot of pressure on them,” McMahon said. “We created turnovers and some quick shots. We ran our break extremely well and we spaced really well. We kept the pressure up and the guys played with great intensity early on and for the whole game.”

Wyatt Flynn led the Blue Devils with 12 points and Connor Synek added 11, with seven of them coming in the first quarter.

“We jumped out to an early lead by keeping the pressure on them, which caused live turnovers that led to easy buckets,” Synek said. “Most of our points in the first quarter were scored in the paint. We also closed out well and limited their second chance scoring opportunities.”

Synek added four points in the second quarter then played sparingly in the second half after the Blue Devils built a 42-21 halftime lead.

“I am happy with my performance tonight,” Synek said. “My free throw shooting was a little off tonight, but overall, I think we did a good job of getting the ball inside so guys like Flynn and I could use our size advantage.”

Jake Mitrisin also scored in double figures for the Blue Devils with 10 points. Thomas Ceculski added nine, Kyle Zygmunt finished with seven and Jamie McMahon pitched in with six. Connor Blum contributed to the win with five points, Matt Richards scored four and Adam Miklovic added a bucket.

“These guys really trust each other,” Coach McMahon said. “They share the ball and they know if they pass up an open man their teammates get on them in a good way. I like how they share the ball. We want to score because that sets up our pressure defense and they’re starting to get a feel for it.”

Levi Sell led Berkshire with nine points.

“What I really liked about tonight, the guys learned some good lessons from Saturday night and put those to work for a good victory,” McMahon said.

Independence returns to action on Dec. 21 when the Blue Devils travel to Fairport Harding. Berkshire dropped to 0-3, 0-1. The Badgers host Cuyahoga Heights on Friday.

Independence 71, Berkshire 40

Berkshire (0-3): Czekaj 4, Sinkenbring 8, Barbar 5, Kuchling 7, Sell 9, Roach 6, Kastor 1

Independence (2-2): E. Mitrisin 3, Ceculski 9, J. Mitrisin 10, Blum 5, Miklovic 2, Richards 4, McDonald 6, Zygmunt 7, Flynn 12, Synek 11

Berkshire 8 13 7 12 — 40

Independence 27 15 19 10 — 71

Free throws: Berkshire 6 of 9, Independence 13 of 26; 3-pointers: Berkshire 4 (Sinkenbring 2, Barbar, Kuchling), Independence 4 (Ceculski, J. Mitrisin, Blum, Richards)

Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, 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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