Saturday, January 28, 2023

Hornets avenge loss to Huskies

MIDDLEFIELD—It took 11 months but Kirtland finally avenged a last-second loss at Cardinal dating back to Feb. 2, 2017.

Robbie Bruncak’s 3-pointer as time expired gave Cardinal its first win over the Hornets since 2010. Kirtland got its revenge on Wednesday with a 68-57 win over the Huskies.

“Obviously, we have some demons from here last year and them hitting a big shot late,” said Kirtland coach Nick Gallo. “I thought we didn’t play with great energy out of the gate. It was about two minutes before someone scored, but in the second quarter we came out and pushed the pace a little bit and played faster.”

Neither team got off to a fast start as the game was scoreless nearly three minutes into the contest.

Cardinal held an 11-9 advantage after the first quarter and Kirtland took a 27-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Kirtland outscored Cardinal in the second half, 41-31.

“I talked to the guys too about playing inside-out,” Gallo said. “We were around the rim the entire second half, especially in transition off of misses. When we’re playing in transition and playing free, we’re much better.”

Credit Dom Capretta with giving the Hornets a boost off the bench.

Capretta hit a second quarter 3-pointer and went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the fourth. He also recorded a key steal in the third quarter that turned into a transition bucket for the Hornets.

“We haven’t done a great job with 50-50 balls and he brings that for us,” Gallo said of Capretta. “He has such a great game sense. He had a play in the Wickliffe game late, he stole a wing entry pass and we scored a transition bucket too. He gives us a great lift with him being able to control the offense from the point guard position. He does things on both ends of the floor.”

Seann McGill led Kirtland with a game-high 22 points. Brandon Samsa finished with 15 and Capretta and Adam Mueller both contributed with nine for the Hornets, who improved to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.

Cardinal’s Luke Timas scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Huskies within striking range of the Hornets.

“I could tell he got a little tired there because we went to him a little bit too much, but he’s playing well,” said Cardinal coach Jon Cummins. “When we need a bucket, he’s our guy we go to. We run a lot of pick and rolls with him, so he makes the decision whether he’s going to the basket or kicking it out. Sometimes he’s a little too unselfish and that’s what happened in the first half. At halftime, we told him he’s got to assert himself a little bit more and he did.”

Robbie Bruncak, Matt Carney and Robbie Mulh also scored in double figures for the Huskies. Bruncak finished with 12 while Carney and Mulh contributed 11 and 10, respectively.

“We came out and played hard from the beginning,” Cummins said. “We were playing at a good pace, what I wanted to play, and came out with some good energy. After that first five minutes, there wasn’t a lot of energy after that. Mentally, I don’t think we were completely there as a team. That’s not the best result we wanted but we get to play them again. Hopefully, we can have a better result next time.”

Cardinal dropped to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the CVC.

Kirtland 68, Cardinal 57

Kirtland (4-2, 3-2): Capretta 9, Mueller 9, Samsa 15, Zeuli 2, 3, Fulco 3, Krulc 3, Work 2, McGill 22.

Cardinal (4-5): Mulh 10, Bruncak 12, Carney 11, Cummins 2, Timas 18, Hogue 2, Horner 2

Kirtland 9 18 18 23 — 68
Cardinal 11 15 12 19 — 57

Free throws: Kirtland 17 of 22 , Cardinal 5 of 9; 3-pointers: Kirtland 7 (Capretta, Samsa 3, Krulc, Lamino, McGill), Cardinal 6 (Brunsack, 4, Carney, Timas).

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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