MIDDLEFIELD—Cardinal’s zone defense slowed down Kirtland’s offense, at least for half of the first quarter.
Once the Hornets found their groove they went on to win, 54-31, to improve to 14-2 overall and 10-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.
“A slow start against zone defenses is going to happen,” said Kirtland coach Bob Bell. “We just had to break it down and once we broke it down we got a few shots to fall. The defense put us in a position to win.”
Jenna Sayle, who finished with 13 points for the Hornets, broke a scoreless tie with 4:24 left in the opening quarter.
Sydney Snyder, who scored a game-high 23, then hit a 3-pointer to give Kirtland an early 5-0 lead.
Camille Cummins and Ashley Gubanyar then hit back-to-back buckets for the Huskies before Kirtland went on a 17-0 run to end the first half with a 27-8 lead.
“The second quarter was a tough one for us,” said Cardinal coach Luke Kruse. “That's what Kirtland does, they get you playing out of your pace. They get you playing uncomfortable and kind of on edge and stressed out all the time, making hurried decisions instead of good decisions. That's their strength as a team and we fell right into their hands in the second quarter. We knew what they were going to come out and do but it's hard to simulate that sort of athleticism and pressure in practice.”
Rylee McCrory hit three 3-pointers in the game to finish with nine points for Kirtland and Lauren Snyder, Lauren Lutz and Julia Camino all finished with three.
“Julia Camino did a great job off the bench. Defensively at one point I think she had four steals in three minutes,” Bell said. “Rylee does a great job of knocking jobs down from the outside. That's why she's on the floor, she does a great job. Lauren Snyder has been sick the last couple of days and just stepped up and played very strong. Jenna Sayle plays hard all the time. Sometimes that's why she gets into a little bit of foul trouble but she's a very solid player. Overall, defense again put us in great position.”
Gubanyar finished with a team-high eight points for Cardinal while Dawn Scribben finished with six, Hanna Traggiai, Cummins and Allissa Nevison each finished with four.
“The second half, we cleaned it up and talked about what we could do differently when they came out in their different half court presses and we did a much better job looking downhill towards the basket, making skip passes and opening up our offense a lot,” Kruse said. “I told them in the locker room after the game, Kirtland is a great team. It would have been easy in the second half to go out there and play me first basketball and say, 'Let’s just chalk this one up and do whatever we want out there,' but they stayed in the game and looked for their teammates on offense. I'd say in the second half we played them close to even and against Kirtland that's progress and improvement compared to the first half.”
Kirtland 54, Cardinal 31
Kirtland (15-2): S. Snyder 23, L. Snyder 3, Sayle 13, Lutz 3, Camino 3, McCray 9
Cardinal (5-11): Scribben 6, Traggiai 4, Cummins 4, Lawrence 3, Nevison 4, Gubanyar 8, Pollack 2
Kirtland 8 19 12 15 — 54 Cardinal 4 4 13 10 — 31
Free throws: Kirtland 8 of 14, Cardinal 2 of 7; 3-pointers: Kirtland 4 (McCray 3, Snyder), Cardinal 3 (Gubanyar 2, Traggai)