Sunday, February 25, 2024

Blue Devils fall short in rivalry game

INDEPENDENCE—Cuyahoga Heights and Independence went scoreless through the first half of the first quarter in Saturday’s Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division showdown. That scoring drought set the tone for the host Blue Devils as the Redskins pulled out a 41-31 win.

Despite a solid defensive effort, the Blue Devils, who dropped to 9-8 overall, never found a rhythm on offense.

“We were scoring challenged today,” said Independence head coach Mike Marcinko. “It felt like there was a lid on the hoop. We couldn’t seem to finish and get any continuity. Part of that is their good job defensively but we just couldn’t find a rhythm one way or another.”

It’s not that the Blue Devils didn’t come up with a few big shots.

Freshman Sophia Trombetta hit a 3-pointer as time expired in the first quarter to give Independence an 8-7 lead heading into the second quarter and Hallie Zumack nailed a three that tied the game at 16 with a minute left in the first half. Victoria Sirna’s 3-pointer tied the game at 19 early in the third quarter.

“We just couldn’t string them together,” Marcinko said. “A lot of that is due to them working hard defensively and a lot of that is us just not finding any continuity or rhythm in what we were trying to do.”

Defensively, even with Jenna Stegmaier, Cuyahoga Heights’ all-time leading scorer, dropping in a game-high 27 points, the Blue Devils turned in a strong performance.

Stegmaier scored 13 of her points at the free throw line and found it difficult to get an open look at the hoop thanks to the persistence and hustle of Independence’s Julia Riley and Nicole Ferrara.

“When we played them at their place she had one open look,” Marcinko said. “Nicole and Julia and Halle Dorko last time were trading off here and there. This was mostly Julia and Nicole. They were making her earn them. She didn’t in a sense go off on us. It was just a steady drip. She’s their best player and she’s going to get the most touches so she’s going to score. You can give her the ball and tell her to give you 15-20 and you’re going to get 15-20.”

Zumack led Independence with 12 points while Dorko added nine. Lauren Goetz scored seven for Cuyahoga Heights.

“Collectively, with all we’re going through, I was really happy with the girls,” Marcinko said. “It’s not an excuse but we’re banged up. We’ve got kids living in the training room and they gave us everything they had on one leg, one and a half legs, whatever it is. I’m very proud of the effort.”


Steve Hare
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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