INDEPENDENCE—Both Independence and visiting Cardinal learned a lot about themselves after the host Blue Devils pulled out a 66-63 overtime win on Friday.
The Blue Devils, who suffered an 82-46 loss to Richmond Heights on Tuesday, bounced back with a solid win over the Huskies.
“I’m really proud of how our guys responded,” said Independence coach Hugh McMahon. “We had a tough one on Tuesday night against a very, very talented and well-coached Richmond Heights team. We had a couple really good days of practice and good team-building activities. We showed tonight that we have a lot of character that we can dig down deep and even when a four-year starter goes out we’re able to win the game in overtime. I’m really proud of our efforts.”
Cardinal rallied back from a 10-point halftime deficit and a 12-point third quarter disadvantage to tie the game in the final seconds.
Despite the loss, the Huskies have some momentum moving forward.
“That’s something to build on,” said Cardinal coach Jon Cummins. “We’ll watch film tomorrow and get this nasty taste out of our mouth and go play another tough game against Garrettsville on Tuesday. The road doesn’t get any easier; we’ve just got to get ourselves a win.”
Independence led just 15-13 after the first quarter. The Blue Devils then outscored the Huskies, 15-7, in the second to take a 30-20 lead into the break.
Kyle Stefanski scored 10 of his team-high 20 points in the second half to help the Blue Devils build that 12-point advantage.
Cardinal then began chipping away at their defict, thanks to the work of Luke Timas, who finished with a game-high 23 points.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and let Luke run the shots up top,” Cummins said. “We just ran a pick and roll and kicked it outside.”
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils struggled to beat Cardinal’s pressure.
“They came with a 3-4 zone trap and we didn’t attack it real well,” McMahon said. “When we did beat it, we settled for what I call hero shots instead of making them pay with a layup or a wide open shot. Also, in their half court, they extended their defense and put a little more pressure on us. We turned it over a few more times and that led to some easy baskets.”
Matt Carney’s layup in the closing seconds tied the game at 57-57.
Stefanski opened the overtime period with a 3-pointer and Jamie McMahon, who finished with 15 points, added a bucket to give the Blue Devils a 62-57 lead.
“I asked the guys in the fourth quarter and in overtime to dig deep and they did,” McMahon said. “We got a couple stops there at the end and we were able to pull it out.”
The Blue Devils held the lead even after Stefanski fouled out.
Credit McMahon and Wyatt Flynn for picking up the slack.
The two sophomores both scored 15 points in the game.
“It’s interesting to see those sophomores grow, literally, over the years,” Coach McMahon said. “They have a huge upside but they’re sophomores. It’s really nice to start to see the chemistry coming with the seniors. We have some good seniors who step in and play their role and are big for us. I like the mix; it gives us some depth with those sophomores stepping up.”
Carney contributed with 10 points and Robbie Mulh added nine for the Huskies.
“I went in there at the end of the game and I was very frustrated and felt bad for the guys,” Cummins said. “I didn’t have much to say to them. They played hard. They played to their best ability but they came up short.”
Independence improved to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division. Cardinal dropped to 0-4, 0-2.