Preparation pays off.
Independence spent extra time this week breaking down film of the Berkshire Badgers and that resulted in Haylee Dmitruk turning in a strong performance to lead the Blue Devils to a 47-39 overtime win in Burton on Wednesday.
“Haylee Dmitruk had a heck of a game,” said Independence coach Mike Marcinko. “We sat down this week, the coaches and players, Haylee being one of them, and looked at film trying to get an understanding of what we want and what they’re looking at. We told Haylee, ‘It should be your team. You’re the point guard, the ball is in your hand 80-percent of the time, it should be your team.’ Today it was. It was her team. She ran the show; she defended and got people where they needed to be. We couldn’t ask anything more of her.”
Dmitruk finished with a team-high 14 points.
“I was very happy with, not only how I played, but how my team played,” she said. “I understand my role on the court and so do my teammates. When we all cooperate and work as a team, good things happen.”
Independence led 10-9 after the first quarter but the Badgers turned the table and led at halftime, 25-22.
Dmitruk scored five of Independence’s nine third quarter points to help the Blue Devils regain the lead after three, 31-29.
She nearly ended the game in regulation after an inbounds pass with 4.9 seconds left, but instead, she scored five points in the overtime period to carry the Blue Devils to the win.
“Playing on the road is always difficult,” Dmitruk said. “We came into this game knowing we had a battle. Being able to come out and win in overtime pumped our team’s confidence up to another level.”
Erica Esper contributed to the win with nine points, Riley Wilson added seven and Reni Kaiser, Madison Stepanik and Riccela DiGeronimo each pitched in with four points. Kaitlin Richards scored three for the Blue Devils.
Hanah Walker and Amy Ksiazka missed the game with illnesses.
“The girls did a heck of a job of grinding out a road win,” Marcinko said. “The girls that were here, some weren’t 100-percent and we were missing Hanah and Amy, so we are thrilled to be able to perform and grind out and produce and get things done on the road.”
Rachel Breckenridge led Berkshire with a game-high 17 points, Kayle White contributed with eight and Madison Chapman finished with seven.
That trio combined for just nine points in the second half.
“Kaitlin Richards did a nice job defensively in the second half,” Marcinko said. “She did a nice job on their bigs. She had her hand on a lot of basketballs and helped us get some stops. Riccela, defensively, she did a great job on Chapman and she did a great job rebounding. It doesn’t always show up in the stats, but for a guard she rebounds extremely well and she hit a key free throw in overtime. You can go down the list, everybody pitched in and helped us along the way.”
Independence improved to 7-4 overall and 3-2 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division while Berkshire dropped to 8-5, 3-4.