Monday, January 30, 2023

Blue Devils escape with win at Berkshire

BURTON—Independence got off to a fast start then held off a Berkshire rally in a 39-31 Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division game on Saturday.

The Blue Devils, who improved to 5-4 overall and 3-2 in league play, led by 15 points midway through the second quarter and by 10 in the fourth.

“We’ll do things for a four minute stretch that we’ve practiced and we look like we know we’re on task, on target and then we’ll do a four minute stretch where we don’t know each other,” said Independence coach Mike Marcinko. “I think that’s part of the inexperience. We’ve got two returning starters and even though there are some juniors and seniors in there we have people that didn’t play. It’s all part of the process, but it’s nice to see those four minute stretches where things are clicking and it’s what you see and drill in practice. That part, that’s what we hang onto. The rest you’ve got to fight through.”

It didn’t help matters when leading scorer Hallie Zumack picked up her third foul early in the third quarter and sat out nearly the entire eight minutes.

But, Marcinko won’t use that as an excuse.

“We have people who can step up and play,” Marcinko said. “We had a couple turnovers and missed shots. We told the girls, ‘We expect you guys to step up and play and perform and produce.’ It was a chink in the armor but the girls know we trust them to go out and play and produce. It hurt us for a little bit but the other side of it was we didn’t give up a ton. We kind of hung on. Our expectation is that we had them at a tipping point; we can’t let the foot off the gas. When people come in they have to produce. “

Zumack and Megan Kuczmarski both finished with a game-high 12 points and Jessica Dmitruk and Mia Coudriet both had four for the Blue Devils.

Sophie Piteo didn’t score but she shined on defense.

“I thought Meg did a nice job inside,” Marcinko said. “At the other end, I thought Sophie did a nice job denying 23 the ball. We went kind of a little man and one on her. From Julia, Megan and Hallie, we need 10 or more every night and the rest of them have to give us 20.”

Sarah Luoma led Berkshire with 11 points and Erin Drew added eight.

“I like the way we kind of gritted through some rough spots,” Marcinko said. “I thought that was, especially on the road, good character and good team basketball. We kind of rallied around each other and got it done even though it was a little shakier than we wanted it to be.”

Independence hosts Wickliffe on Tuesday.

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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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