After opening the Chagrin Valley Conference season with a 56-48 loss to visiting Harvey on Dec. 8 the Kirtland Hornets found themselves in unfamiliar territory. The Hornets entered the 2014-2015 season with back-to-back Valley Division titles and had won eight of the last 10 conference crowns.
Despite playing with just one healthy senior the Hornets went on to reel off seven straight conference victories, including a 47-39 win at Harvey on Feb. 4, to earn a share of the title.
“I’m pretty happy with the fact that we did lose our first league game and then won the next seven in a row,” said Kirtland coach Bob Bell. “I was pretty happy about that. You could always look back and say, ‘Gee, I’d like to have that first one back.’ It was early in the year and we just weren’t jelling real well as a unit yet.”
Senior Samantha Achauer guided the Hornets the best way she knew how.
She averaged 17.7 points per game in helping Kirtland to a 13-9 record overall and a 7-1 conference mark.
“She’s been outstanding this year, averaging almost 18 points a game,” Bell said. “She’s one of our top two rebounders too. I just can’t say enough about her. She’s a team captain and the girls look up to her. She’s just had a good senior year and I’m happy for her. I think the girls have learned a lot from her.”
Achauer had 22 points, 10 rebounds and five steals in Saturday’s 57-39 win at Fairport Harding that clinched Kirtland’s share of the conference crown.
“It was pretty exciting,” Achauer said. “I’m glad we were able to get that final win. We dropped that first game but I had confidence in my team. We just closed it out and it felt really good.”
Achauer was at her best in the CVC. She scored 149 points in eight league games, an 18.63 points per game average.
It was the motivation of finishing off her career as a league champion that drove her to shine in those conference games.
“I think we took that first one hard because we were so used to playing so well in the CVC, but it was a real motivator,” she said. “We came back and won most of our games by quite a number because I think we were so determined to at least win a share of it depending on how Harvey did. I think we showed the rest of the CVC that we were in it to win it.”
The Hornets open the postseason on Wednesday at Gilmour Academy.