GARFIELD HEIGHTS—They say heart can’t be measured.
The Kirtland Hornets tested that theory during the final three quarters of Monday’s 68-60 loss to top-seeded Lutheran East in a Division III district semifinal at Garfield Heights High School.
After falling behind in the first quarter, 23-10, the Hornets went on to outscore the Falcons the rest of the way, 50-45, but never could overcome their slow start.
“It’s hard to beat a team that won’t quit and that’s what our kids have done really all year but especially today,” Kirtland coach Shawn McGregor said. “I think they just looked at it like we got down 10-13 points or whatever it might have been and they looked deep inside themselves and said we’re not going to end our season year like this. We’re going to compete and we’re going to get it done and they did a great job of getting back to it.”
Kirtland matched Lutheran East with 14 points in the second quarter but trailed at the break, 37-24.
Dominic Capretta and Tommy Powers heated up in the third quarter as Kirtland went on a 22-13 lead to pull to within 50-46 heading into the fourth quarter.
Capretta scored five straight points on a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws and later in the period added a second 3. Powers scored six points, including a 3-pointer that pulled the Hornets to within three points.
“Those two guys have been our energizers all year,” McGregor said. “At the beginning of the year when we were platooning, they were the point guards of both teams and they led us as generals. Today, we had to call upon them to play together and they led together and they had great chemistry. They were finding open looks for a lot of guys.”
Capretta finished with 10 points while Powers tied Seann McGill with a team-high 11.
McGill scored six of his points in the second half when Capretta and Powers found their groove on the offensive end and Zach Samsa added eight points.
“Seann benefitted from their penetration,” McGregor said of his tandem guards. “Zach Samsa got some easy looks off of that as well. They’re two great competitors who play hard. They were one of the guys that really had to make the adjustments at half to play better basketball.”
Adam Mueller contributed with seven points, Dawson Cosgrove added five and Jack Bailey finished with four. Mike Bottesch and Connor Gron both scored two points for the Hornets, who finished the year 16-8.
“All year long our kids have battled and competed,” McGregor said. “We talk about what we expect from the Kirtland athletes and that’s to compete and play hard and get everything they possibly can for every second that they’re on the floor and I think they absolutely did that tonight. I can’t be more proud of our kids. For 10 seniors to go out and end their career on what was maybe a great competitive basketball game, they should be nothing but proud of themselves and the way they played.”