Sunday, January 29, 2023

Independence runs past Field

WILLOUGHBY—An 18-point run helped Independence come from behind to defeat Field, 31-15, in the first round of the 9th Annual Melanie Williams Memorial Tournament at Andrews-Osborne Academy on Friday.

Trailing 12-11 at halftime, the Blue Devils dominated the second half in holding the Falcons to just three points, one in the third quarter and two in the fourth.

“We’re tired, we were working hard every possession,” said Independence coach Mike Marcinko. “It was a little bit of deception and a little bit of hard work and you’ve got yourself a ‘W’ on the road.”

The deception came from the different looks the Blue Devils showed on defense.

“We were mixing and matching,” Marcinko said. “We had three or four different calls and we just kept mixing them to give them different looks to keep their really good athlete, No. 12, off-kilter.”

That strategy paid off as Maria Sziva was held to just five points.

Early on, Independence struggled to finish off shots but that changed when Riley Wilson hit her first 3-pointer.

She went on to finish with a game-high 14 points with 11 of them coming in the second half as the Blue Devils pulled away.

“I thought we were, offensively, a little sluggish early,” Marcinko said. “We missed some shots that were makeable, some putbacks and layups and free throws, but our legs finally got under us. Like anything else, defense is usually what dictates what goes on and I thought the girls did a good job.”

Wilson scored back-to-back 3s and hit a pair of free throws to ignite the third quarter run.

“We didn’t get as quick as a start as we wanted but in the second half we were able to get going,” Wilson said. “We were able to get the shots that we wanted and they started to fall.”

Freshman Riccela DiGeronimo pitched in with seven points and sophomore Haylee Dmitruk added six. Senior Hanah Walker finished with four points for the Blue Devils.

DiGeronimo scored from outside the arc and also drove the lane for a couple of buckets.

“We want her to shoot,” Marcinko said. “We were telling her she has to shoot and score for us, but she starts leaning forward and getting itchy and she loses her form. In the second half, we had to keep on her about staying tall and she drilled that one in the corner. It was a great shot. The other thing too is she had a good read. They came out hard on her and she gives them the jab step and goes to the rim. It was a great job by her.”

Independence advanced to Saturday’s semifinals where they’ll meet Lake Ridge Academy at 5:30 p.m. The Royals defeated Bard, 72-29, on Friday.

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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