Independence recognized seniors Hanah Walker and Kelsey Wilmot prior to Saturday’s regular season finale against visiting Lincoln West then went out and beat the Wolverines, 55-43.
“It was a typical, emotional night so it was hard to refocus on the task at hand,” said Independence coach Mike Marcinko. “You get so caught up in the pregame but it was great to talk and recognize and honor Hanah and Kelsey and that carried over into the first quarter. We were kind of still celebrating so we got off to a slow start and then we started rolling.”
Wilmot made the first start of her career, which required a last-minute lesson on the proper pregame rituals to follow during team introductions.
“It was fun watching them put together a handshake and getting her ready for the starting lineup,” Marcinko said. “That was fun to watch because she’s put in so much work. She hasn’t been a regular but she’s shown the younger girls what commitment means. She’s not only on time, she’s early and always working hard and she has a great attitude. She’s truly a team player and we’re all better for her being in the program.”
Walker finished with eight points for the Blue Devils.
“She had a real nice last (home) game,” Marcinko said. “I hope in general the staff and the girls made it a good last game for her and Kelsey.”
The pregame was all about the seniors but it was a pair of underclassmen that stole the show during the game.
Sophomore Riley Wilson and freshman Riccela DiGeronimo both finished with a team-high 16 points for Independence.
“Riccela and Riley certainly have carried the freight for us the last few games,” Marcinko said. “Riley has been driving to the rim and attacking the basket and getting some and-ones for us and it’s the same with Riccela. She’s been getting steals and run outs and that’s been really good for us.”
DiGeronimo quickly emerged this season as one of Independence’s top scoring threats and she has gotten better in recent weeks.
“Coach has been working with me to get me to take a pull up instead of a floater and it has been helping me out a lot,” DiGeronimo said. “As a freshman, I wasn’t sure what to expect in high school. I just came in and tried to work hard in practice. After every game I got more and more comfortable playing. My coaches and teammates have helped me a lot by encouraging me and telling me to just play and don’t worry about anything. With our regular season coming to an end, I have gotten very confident in myself.”
Kaitlin Richards contributed to the win with six points, Madison Stepanik added four, Haylee Dmitruk pitched in with three and Erica Esper finished with a bucket.
The Blue Devils, who finished the regular season 14-7, open the postseason on Saturday at Wellington.