BURTON—Thanks to the Kirtland football team reaching the state championship game for the sixth time in seven seasons, the Hornets got a late start to the 2017-2018 basketball season.
They made up for it by scoring 27 first quarter points in a 67-33 win at Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division rival Berkshire on Tuesday.
“I thought we played with great energy tonight,” said Kirtland coach Nick Gallo. “We had great bench energy and were there to pick each other up. We did a lot of open gym over the summer, so we had some chemistry there but when you have a four-month football season you have to figure out some things on the fly and I thought the guys did a good job tonight.”
Led by Sean McGill, who scored a game-high 15 points, three Hornets finished in double figures.
McGill scored eight points in the first quarter as the Hornets took early control of the game.
“I was just looking to be aggressive to begin, looking to pass first but at the same time be aggressive,” McGill said. “It was a score-first mentality.”
McGill saw his first varsity action after breaking his arm in a JV game last winter.
“Sean McGill has done a lot,” Gallo said. “I’ve got to give him a lot of credit from a maturity standpoint, from his ability to keep the ball high and I thought he did a great job on the glass tonight and he had some nice floaters to the rim. That dunk made me a little nervous tonight but at least he got it down and got back up. The last time he did it in his first game he did not get back up, so I’m happy he got back up. Maybe we’ve got to ease the slam a little bit.”
Kyle Work contributed with 14 points and Dawson Cosgrove added 13 for the Hornets.
“I think last year’s progression and having those sophomores get some time and now becoming juniors; you saw Dawson Cosgrove and how much he’s grown and developed and Adam Mueller did a lot of work over the summer, “Gallo said. “It was nice to see them come out and get a good start.”
Nine different Kirtland players scored in the game and that depth is something Gallo hopes to take advantage of throughout the season.
“I think that’s so important this year, establishing the bench,” he said. “We got great minutes from Kyle Work tonight. We’ve got to utilize our size. We have some good shooters coming off the bench. Luke Camino can come off and knock down shots.”
Nearly half of Berkshire’s points came from the free throw line. The Badgers converted on 15 of 26 shots from the charity stripe.
“The big thing we learned tonight is we have to learn to play without fouling,” Gallo said. “You saw that in the first half. I think they were just up for the game a little bit and us pressing and being active in passing lanes. With Richmond coming in Friday night we’ve got some things to clean up.”
Forrest Kuchling led Berkshire with 11 points and Tim Pillot finished with seven.
Kirtland improved to 1-0 overall and in the CVC while Berkshire dropped to 1-3, 0-1.
Kirtland 67, Berkshire 33
Kirtland (1-0): Mueller 6, Samsa 3, Cosgrove 13, Fulco 7, Krulc 2, Work 14, Z. Samsa 2, Camino 5, McGill 15
Berkshire: Kuchling 11, Pillot 7, Young 2, Crea 4, Roach 4, Boyk 1, Sinkenbring 2, Hanson 2
Kirtland 27 14 12 14 — 67
Berkshire 5 15 7 6 — 33
Free throws: Kirtland 5 of 8, Berkshire 14 of 23; 3-pointers: Kirtland 6 (Cosgrove 2, McGill 2, Camino 1, Samsa 1), Berkshire 3 (Kuechling)