Independence struggled to find consistency on offense but the Blue Devils thrived on the defensive end of the court in a 37-28 win over visiting Fairview on Monday.
Fairview held a 24-23 halftime advantage but the Blue Devils held the Warriors to just four second half points to pull out the victory.
“For whatever reason, we were kind of flat and missed our fair share of layups and makeable shots, which really could have got us out of the game,” said Independence coach Mike Marcinko. “We kept everything fairly close, we just couldn’t knock down free throws.”
Independence took control early and led 15-7 after the first quarter.
The Warriors capitalized on Independence’s second quarter misfortunes to hold the lead at the break.
“The sad thing is we did execute really well and got things in the right spots, we just struggled finishing whether it was a jumper, a layup or a post-up,” Marcinko said. “We just couldn’t find the net and that made the game close. Obviously, when you keep a team in the game longer and longer and longer they play a little bit better and more confident and we started questioning a little bit.”
The Blue Devils led 27-26 after the third quarter.
That’s when Haylee Dmitruk, who scored 17 points in Saturday’s win over Richmond Heights, and Riccela DiGeronimo took over.
“Down the stretch, Haylee Dmitruk and Riccela DiGeronimo did a nice job for us,” Marcinko said. “Haylee had made two shots from the floor and was 1-for-2 from the line. DiGeronimo hit two from the floor and was 3-for-4 from the line in the fourth. That kind of got us out and kept us out in front. They both handled the ball for us too and got us in and out of our offensive sets and got to the line.”
Dmitruk finished with a team-high 12 points while DiGeronimo pitched in with nine. Riley Wilson and Hanah Walker contributed with seven and six points, respectively.
Amy Ksiazka came off the bench to score three points but her effort on defense keyed Independence’s dominant second half.
“She did a nice job against their point guard to rush their offense,” Marcinko said. “Her role is to come in and make a mess of things and the last two games, at Richmond and here, she did that.
Independence improved to 4-2 overall. The Blue Devils travel to Fairport Harding on Dec. 21.