Monday, February 6, 2023

Kirtland beats Hawken, sets up championship showdown

With a 53-26 win at Hawken on Wednesday the Kirtland girls’ basketball team is in position to win a share of a fourth straight Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title.

The Hornets must win at Richmond Heights on Saturday to do it.

“We just need to be focused,” said Kirtland coach Bob Bell. “We realize we’re outsized. They’ve got a Division I college prospect (in Deja Winters) and we know that they’re a good team. We have to play good solid team basketball to beat them.”

Richmond Heights has won three straight over Kirtland dating back to the 2013-2014 season. The Spartans edged the Hornets, 34-33, back on Jan. 6 but dropped a league game to Cuyahoga Heights to keep the door open for Kirtland to earn a share of the crown.

The door would have slammed shut if Kirtland didn’t handle its business at Hawken on Wednesday.

“Our kids were very focused,” Bell said. “There’s always an adjustment when you’re playing down at Hawken. It’s a little different environment with the way the gym is laid out. It’s a wonderful facility; it’s just a little different than other gyms.”

Kirtland jumped out to a 13-3 lead after the first quarter and the Hornets never let up.

Taylor Somodji led the team with a game-high 19 points and also contributed with seven rebounds and three steals. Sydney Snyder pitched in with 15 points, seven rebounds and five steals and Claire Neibecker had eight points, five rebounds and two steals.

“Taylor had her usual solid game,” Bell said. “Sydney had another solid game and Claire Neibecker played really well for us.”

Kerr Zalba’s defensive effort led to several transition points for the Hornets.

“Kerri Zalba played strong defense,” Bell said. “She gives us a lot out there in our press, putting pressure on the opposing guards. She also does a good job at point; she almost never turns the ball over.”
 

Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, 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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