INDEPENDENCE—Kirtland was held to under 40 points for the second game in a row but the Hornets made enough plays down the stretch to hold off host Independence in overtime on Saturday, 39-37.
The Hornets held a nine-point lead at halftime but the Hornets struggled against Independence’s defense in the second half.
“That was a hard-fought game,” said Kirtland coach Bob Bell said. “Independence always plays us very, very well. I thought they executed their offense well and played very intense defense on us. I really have to credit our defense for hanging on and pulling that game out.”
Sydney Snyder scored 11 of her game-high 20 points in the first half as the Hornets built a 19-10 lead.
The Blue Devils, meanwhile, began to execute better and outscored the Hornets, 16-8, in the third quarter to pull to within one heading into the final eight minutes of regulation.
“It wasn’t a big rah-rah session,” said Independence coach Mike Marcinko of his halftime discussion. “It was more of, ‘We’re getting looks and, as bad as it was, we only gave up 19 points and defensively we’re defending hard and making Sydney work her tail off.’ If we get the first miss we’d be in a better spot. The girls answered the call.”
Amy Ksiazka’s 3-pointer and Reni Kaiser’s and-one fueled Independence’s offense in the third quarter but it was the defense that made the difference for the Blue Devils in the second half.
“Offensively, I’m not saying that we were bad,” Bell said. “I’m saying that Independence played good defense. We managed to get enough in that overtime to make the difference in the ball game. It was a two-point game; it could have gone either way.”
Jenna Sayle rescued the Hornets in overtime as she scored six of Kirtland’s nine points in the extra frame.
“She had some great looks throughout the game but the ball wasn’t falling for her,” Bell said. “We just told her to hang in there and stay with it. She did and she managed to get two really big goals and two free throws for us in the overtime.”
Neither team excelled at the free throw line.
Kirtland finished 11-of-16 while Independence was 9-of-14. The Hornets were 0-for-3 and the Blue Devils were 2-for-6 in the fourth quarter.
“We executed better than in the second half than we did in the first half,” Marcinko said. “There were still a couple mental lapses, but the only thing I could get on them about is we were 2-of-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. If we make one more we go home early.”
Sayle finished with eight points and Katie McCollister added four for the Hornets in the win. Riccela DiGeronimo paced Independence with 11 points while Kaiser finished with seven and Riley Wilson and Kaitlyn Richards both contributed with six.
Kirtland improved to 11-0 overall and 5-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference while Independence dropped to 6-4, 2-2.
Kirtland 39, Independence 37 (OT)
Kirtland (11-0, 5-0 CVC): McCollister 4, L. Snyder 3, S. Snyder 20, Sayle 8, Lutz 2, Camino 2
Independence (5-4, 2-2): Wilson 6, Ksiazak 3, Kaiser 7, Richards 6, Dimutrik 4, DiGeronimo 11
Kirtland 9 10 8 3 9 — 39
Independence 6 4 16 4 7 — 37
Free throws: Kirtland 11 of 16, Independence 9 of 14; 3-pointers: Kirtland 2 (S. Snyder), Independence 2 (Ksiazak, DiGeronimo); Rebounds: Kirtland 37 (S. Snyder 12), Independence 17