Friday, September 24, 2021

Cardinal holds off Independence

MIDDLEFIELD—Fueled by five second quarter 3-pointers, Cardinal took a 15-point lead over Independence into halftime then held off the Blue Devils down the stretch in a 75-72 win on Tuesday.

Independence outscored the Huskies, 28-14, in the second half but ran out of time in dropping to 4-8 overall and 3-5 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division. Cardinal improved to 5-6, 3-4.

“In the first half we played great,” said Cardinal coach Jon Cummins. “The guys played with some confidence, which truly hasn’t been the case a lot this season. We’ve got a lot of veteran players and I was hoping to see that confidence throughout the whole game. We saw in the first half but we got ourselves a win, so I’ll take it.”

Leading 17-15 after the first quarter, the Huskies found a hot shooter in Matt Carney, who hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 of his team-high 21 in the second. Robbie Bruncak and Robbie Mulh also hit 3s for the Huskies, who went on a 13-1 run to build a 43-25 lead late in the first half.

“He was hot,” Cummins said of Carney. “We were trying to get out and go and we were fortunate enough in transition to get some wide open 3s. Robbie Mulh shot one he probably shouldn’t have and it went in. That’s what happens sometimes when you’re on a roll. Things were going well for us.”

The Huskies led 61-44 after three quarters but couldn’t put away the Blue Devils.

“The third quarter wasn’t bad,” Cummins said. “We were a little shaky coming out of the gate but we were able to get some stops and scores, but in the fourth quarter, we haven’t played with too many leads and we get a little scared at times instead of playing our game and running our offenses.”

Independence made its run in the fourth.

Kyle Stefanski, who led all scorers with 30 points, Jamie McMahon and Wyatt Flynn each scored six points in the quarter for the Blue Devils and Jack Ksiazka added five.

“We let them get too far ahead with a 28-point second quarter,” said Independence coach Hugh McMahon. “We turned it over and they got some run out 3s and some layups. I challenged the guys at halftime and I thought we did a great job in the second half really getting after it and playing hard.”

Stefanski scored 12 of his 30 in the second half while Flynn dropped 10 of his 18 in the final two quarters.

The Blue Devils also played more aggressively on defense, which limited Cardinal’s scoring opportunities, but the double-digit deficit was too much to overcome.

“We didn’t play perfect and when you’re down that much you have to play perfect,” McMahon said. “A couple of bounces here or there at the rim and we would have been right there, so I’m really proud of our effort. We’ve got to find a way to come out in the first half with that energy and enthusiasm and put four quarters like that together.”

Mulh contributed to the win with 16 points while Luke Timas and Hayden Cummins also finished in double figures for the Huskies with 13 and 11, respectively. Bruncak finished with nine points.

“We’re trying to get the guys to play 32 minutes of basketball,” Coach Cummins said. “We still make some mental mistakes here and there and that’s all five guys out on the floor, but I was proud of them. The first thing I did when I walked in the locker room is I told them we won. We’ve had some ugly wins and this wasn’t ugly. Independence fought and played hard and gave us their best shot in the fourth quarter. It was a good win for us.”

Cardinal 75, Independence 72

Independence : Stefanski 30, Teribery 2, Ksiazka 9, McMahon 6, Flynn 18, Cecuski 3, Mitrisin 2, Mallernee 2

Cardinal: Mulh 16, Bruncak 9, Carney 21, Cummins 11, Timas 13, Hogue 3, Kosh 2

Independence 15 15 14 28 — 72
Cardinal 17 28 16 14 — 75

Free throws: Independence 12 of 22, Cardinal 16 of 30; 3-pointers: Independence 6 (Stefanski 4, Ceculski, McMahon), Cardinal 7 (Carney 4, Bruncak, Timas, Mulh)


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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