Kirtland’s comfortable halftime lead at Independence on Friday disappeared in the third quarter, but the Hornets rallied in the fourth and hit some key shots and free throws to hold off the Blue Devils, 66-59.
“We stuck it out,” said Kirtland coach Nick Gallo. “They came back and made it a three-point game going into the fourth. We extended it back to an eight-point lead and they climbed back into it again. We hit some free throws down the stretch to ice it and that was kind of the game.”
The Hornets used a 23-15 second quarter run to take a 34-26 lead into the break.
Independence pulled to within two points after outscoring the Hornets, 15-9, in the third quarter but Kirtland pulled away in the final eight minutes.
“I am really happy with our effort and intensity tonight,” said Independence coach Hugh McMahon. “With a little better execution we could have pulled out the win. I believe our young men are willing to put the work in to improve, which will make the rest of the season exciting.”
Kirtland changed up its defense in the third to help slow down the Blue Devils. Doing that also enabled the Hornets to score more in transition.
“We showed a little bit of 1-3-1 tonight in the third quarter that helped us to energize our guys and get some turnovers,” Gallo said. “That helped us to score in transition and helped us win the basketball game.”
Brandon Samsa led the Hornets with 16 points while Adam Mueller scored 15, including the key free throws in the closing moments.
“It’s a good win for us,” Mueller said. “We have to do a better job coming out physical and energetic from the tip so we can start the game off better and not have to deal with it being close at the ends of games. Offensively, I was just looking to be aggressive and play hard. I just wanted to do whatever it took to get the win.”
Dylan Fulco contributed to the win with nine points, Sean McGill added eight and Jonathan Ridgeway and Matthew Krulc each scored six. Dylan Cosgrove pitched in with four and Kyle Work scored two, but he excelled under the glass on both ends of the floor.
“Dylan Fulco had a nice night,” Gallo said. “He had eight of his nine in the fourth and hit a huge and-one down the stretch. Sean McGill played well down the stretch as well. Kyle Work too, even though he didn’t play the fourth, was excellent on the glass tonight changing shots and playing defense. He did a great job overall.”
Andrew Teribery led Independence with17 points while Kyle Stefanski finished with 14. Jack Ksiazka and Wyatt Flynn also scored in double figures with 13 and 10, respectively.
Kirtland 66, Independence 59
Kirtland (2-2, 2-2 CVC): Mueller 15, Samsa 16, Cosgrove 4, Fulco 9, Ridgeway 6, Krulc 6, Work 2, McGill 8
Independence: Patel 2, Teribery 17, Ksiazka 13, Pace 2, Stefanski 14, McMahon 1, Flynn 10
Kirtland 11 23 9 23—66
Independence 11 15 15 18—59
Free throws: Kirtland 13 of 29, Independence 13 of 29; 3-pointers: Kirtland 7 (Samsa 2, Ridgeway 2, Krulc, Cosgrove, Mueller), Independence 5 (Terriberry 5, Stefanski).