Cole DiFabio scored a game-high 20 points and Palmer Capretta added 12 to lead Kirtland to a 66-39 win at Independence on Tuesday.
With the win, the Hornets snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 3-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.
“It’s nice after three tough losses in a row to come back and get one back in the league,” said Kirtland coach Nick Gallo. “To go to 3-0 in the league gets the guys a little bit more positive and a little bit more pep in their step going into league play. We’ve got another important one on Friday (at Cardinal).”
The Hornets led just 15-14 after the first quarter but broke it open in the second and led at halftime, 32-20.
“We played better tonight,” Gallo said. “We were more patient and better offensively for sure.”
DiFabio missed Kirtland’s first four games and played sparingly in the loss to Chagrin Falls last week. He was eager to get his season started.
“He was just very, very solid tonight,” Gallo said. “He was attacking the rim and shooting the basketball very well. He worked so hard in the off-season and it was a shame for him to miss the first four games of the season. All the work he put in during the off-season, to see him come back with a 19-point game, I feel good for him.”
Capretta’s double digit game was only part of his contribution to the team.
He also distributed the ball and kept the Hornets’ offense in synch.
“He’s showing more leadership with the ball in his hands,” Gallo said. “He has to do that playing that lead guard role for us. He’s playing solid basketball. Tried to get everyone involved tonight, he wasn’t just looking for his shot.”
Owen Lewis pitched in with eight points and Evan Madden and Jeremy Davis both had six for the Hornets.
“That was another solid night for Owen,” Gallo said. “He’s just doing a good job being a leader. He’s making the right basketball plays on the defensive and offensive ends of the floor. He’s really getting his legs under him after a long, exciting football season.”
Independence gave the Hornets some fits but Gallo and his players adjusted to what they were seeing and came out on top.
“We had a hard time with was their UCLA cut and their ability to screen,” Gallo said. “They did a good job putting us in difference circumstances. They made some plays but we made a few more than they did.”
Kyle Stefanski led the Blue Devils with 11 points.
“Stefanski plays really hard,” Gallo said. “He works very hard. We did a good job on him defensively but he made us work really hard. It was a nice game for him.”
Ryan Dworznik and Mario Figliola both scored six points for the Blue Devils, who travel to Lake Ridge Academy on Friday.