Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Bruncak delivers for Cardinal in first win over Kirtland since 2010

MIDDLEFIELD—What comes around goes around, at least in the eyes of the Cardinal Huskies.

Last month, Jeremy Davis hit a floating layup as time expired in overtime to lead Kirtland to a 65-63 win over the Huskies.

Cardinal got its revenge on Thursday when Robbie Bruncak drained a 3-pointer as time expired to lead the Huskies to a 67-64 win over the visiting Hornets.

“It was just amazing,” Bruncak said. “Luke Timas came off a screen and he penetrated and kicked it to me in the corner and I just hit the shot. It was amazing. It felt amazing.”

Bruncak’s game-winner nearly didn’t happen.

He was a late addition to the Huskies’ lineup as Cardinal head coach Jon Cummins was drawing up his plans for the final seven seconds of the game.

Even then, Bruncak’s job was to confuse the Kirtland defense.

“I drew up the last play and my assistant coach told me to put Bruncak in the game. I was really thinking of him as a decoy, to be honest with you, to get him in the corner so they'd jump out at him,” Cummins said. “I wanted Timas to take the last shot. He read the defense and they doubled him, like they should, and he kicked it to Bruncak in the corner. He was obviously wide open and nailed it.”

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The win was Cardinal’s first over the Hornets since 2010 when assistant coach Tyler Walters was a senior.

“The kids played great and hung in there,” Cummins said. “They stuck to it the whole game and played hard. That's all I can ask of these guys. I keep telling them we can play with any team if we play for a full 32 minutes and we did.”

Kirtland took control early and led, 17-15, after the first quarter. The Huskies battled back for a 32-31 halftime lead and extended it to a four-point cushion when Bruncak, in a preview of what was to come, hit a 3-pointer as the third quarter expired to make it 51-47.

Cardinal scored the first four points of the fourth quarter but Brandon Samsa, who scored a game-high 35 points, went on a scoring run to even the score at 62-62 with 1:47 left in the game.

With the score tied 64-64 after each team converted a pair of free throws, the Hornets took possession with 1:08 left with the hopes of taking the final shot.

Instead, the Hornets were called for a five-second violation and the Huskies took possession with 11 seconds left.

“We lost it before that,” said Kirtland coach Nick Gallo. “I just think right now defensively we're not good enough right now. We're giving up way too many straight line layups. You just can't give up 67 points. We did enough on the offensive end of the floor to win that basketball game. You look at the last shot and think that might be the reason but we lost that game before that.”

In addition to Samsa’s 35, Kirtland added 12 from Davis and Palmer Capretta contributed with seven. Dylan Fulco closed out the game with four points while Dawson Cosgrove and Jack Bailey each had two.

“Brandon shot the ball really well tonight. He continues to flourish offensively, but again, we have to guard as a unit,” Gallo said. “I thought we had a really good week of practice, probably the best week of practice we’ve had all year, and we come out here and got off to a really good start. We just don't keep the pedal on. We're just satisfied with early offense and early success. There's stretches where we're really good and then there's four-minute stretches where I don't know who we are. We just haven't played enough of a consistent 32-minute basis the last two weeks to be successful.”

Robbie Mulh led Cardinal with 18 points and 10 rebounds and he also tied Timas for the team lead with seven assists.

“He's definitely a difference maker,” Cummins said of Mulh. “My biggest thing with him is to keep him in shape. He sometimes gets tired out there and I want him to play the whole 32 minutes. I pretty much leave Timas in there the whole 32 minutes if I can.”

Matt Carney pitched in with 13 points and Parker Kosh also finished in double figures for the Huskies with 12. Bruncak finished with nine, on three 3-pointers, Hayden Cummins contributed with eight, Timas finished with six and Brice Hogue scored three points.

“Every one of them played well,” Cummins said. “The kids were ready when they came off the bench as you see with Bruncak, I think he had three 3s, and I had Brice Hogue come in and play some good defense. We just mixed and matched and fought our way through it and clawed through it and got ourselves a 'W.' It was great. We haven't beaten them in a few years.”

Cardinal 67, Kirtland 64

Kirtland: Capretta 7, Samsa 35, Davis 12, Fulco 4, Cosgrove 2, Bailey 2

Cardinal: Timas 6, Mulh 18, Hogue 3, Klatic 0, Cummins 8, Kosh 12, Bruncak 9, Carney 13

Kirtland 17 14 15 18 — 64
Cardinal 15 17 19 16 — 67

Free throws: Kirtland 11 of 12, Cardinal 6 of 6; 3-pointers: Kirtland 5 (Samsa 4, Davis), Cardinal 7 (Bruncak 3, Kosh 2, Muhl 1, Hogue 1); JV: Kirtland, 55-32


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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