Monday, February 26, 2024

Heights holds off Kirtland

CUYAHOGA HEIGHTS—Tess Conroy scored a game-high 17 points and Talyssa Moody added 14 as Cuyahoga Heights held off Kirtland in a Chagrin Valley Conference crossover game on Saturday, 46-43.

Heights dominated the first half, 27-15, but the Hornets made their run in the second and outscored their hosts, 28-19.

“Early in the game, we were uncomfortable and turned it over but they didn’t get off to a great start offensively, and then we got some shots and made some and got that nice lead,” said Heights coach Al Martin. “We knew at halftime they were going to come back. When things are going back for them they just play harder if you can believe that, because their girls play hard all the time.”

Conroy got off to a hot start as she scored seven points in the first quarter and added eight more in the second. Moody finished the first period with five points and added two more in the second as Heights took its double-digit lead.

Kirtland adjusted its defense at halftime and pressured the ball on the perimeter.

Reilly Greenlee and Corinne Greenlee found success driving to the hoop in the third quarter as the Hornets cut into the Heights lead and entered the fourth quarter down just 34-28.

The Hornets pulled to within one possession on two different occasions in the fourth quarter.

“To come back against a high-caliber team like Cuyahoga Heights, that was huge,” said Kirtland coach Brittany Zele. “The girls knew this is a district-level team and it was a good test. I loved the no-quit attitude in the second half. It says a lot about them as individuals.”

While Kirtland shut down the perimeter shooting from Conroy and Moody—the dynamic duo combined for just nine points in the second half—the Hornets left an opening for Julia Jaenke to drive the paint.

Jaenke scored six of her eight points in the second half.

“We had five 3s at halftime so we knew they were going to extend and make sure they didn’t give up five more,” Martin said. “We knew that would open it up for Julia. She’s so good at the top of the floor and she made a couple of really nice drives.”

Reilly Greenlee’s fourth-quarter 3-pointer cut Height’s lead to 43-40 but Ava Galek found herself alone in the corner and buried a 3-pointer to put the game out of reach with less than a minute remaining.

Galek finished with seven points.

“I thought our girls hung in there,” Martin said. “They came back at us and it got uncomfortable. We’ve got some young players out there too who are just kind of learning to play against that style and I thought Ava, our point guard, hit that big shot late. She had been having to handle that pressure the whole game and it went good at times and not great at times, but she got open late in the game and she’s tried but she hit that big 3 and that was the biggest shot of the game.”

The Greenlee sisters scored 12 points each. Macy McIntosh and Marissa Carmosino added nine and eight points, respectively, and Emily Ridgeway scored two for the Hornets.

With the win, Cuyahoga Heights improved to 11-1 overall and extended its winning streak to seven straight games.

Kirtland dropped to 8-2 but the Hornets gained valuable experience they’ll need in the postseason.

“I think as a team they saw they can trust each other to get back in the game and share the burden of trying to score,” Zele said. “Individually, we saw leadership from many girls outside the normal ones.”

Steve Hare
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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