INDEPENDENCE—Prior to Friday’s 57-51 win at Independence, Lutheran West was 0-3 against the Blue Devils since joining the Chagrin Valley Conference.
Tyler DeSimpelare and Jamie Peterson combined to score 39 points as the Longhorns finally claimed their first league win against Independence.
“We’ve been trying to get that off our backs,” said Lutheran West coach Nick Gallo. “They’re so physical and play hard but give our guys credit. We talked about playing with confidence and we made 11-of-12 free throws down the stretch. It was a really good win.”
Both teams were locked into a back-and-forth battle throughout the first half.
DeSimpelare scored just seven of his 20 and Peterson had six of his 19 in the first quarter as the Longhorns built a 23-18 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, Independence had struggled to find its rhythm.
“They did a nice job being aggressive in their 2-3 zone,” said Independence coach Kyle Johnson. “We’ve been working on our zone offense but we just got stagnant. We didn’t attack in it and I don’t think we hit our bigs when they were open. We waited and by that time, they weren’t open. We waited too long. That’s just something we’ve got to get better at. We didn’t do a good enough job.”
Independence’s Kyle Zygmunt exploded for 10 points in the third quarter as the Blue Devils rallied back to take a 34-32 lead. He drained a 3-pointer and a jumper and converted on 5-of-5 free throw tries in the quarter.
The Longhorns responded by outscoring the Blue Devils in the fourth quarter, 24-17.
DeSimpelare scored 13 points and Peterson added six in the final eight minutes to seal it.
“Jamie Peterson coming back from an injury, he’s been such a huge asset for us,” Gallo said. “He has the ability around the rim to finish plays and he plays really well with Tyler. It’s nice to have some balance offensively. We’ve been doing a nice job of spreading the floor. We’re still getting some lulls on the offensive end, but I’m really proud of our team getting a quality win against a good and well-coached team.”
Lutheran West finished the game 17-of-23 from the line but was 11-of-12 in the fourth quarter. Independence connected on just 11-of-17 free throws and missed 4-of-6 in the final eight minutes.
“What killed us at the end of the game, we missed three free throws on the front end of one-and-ones, and our turnovers,” Johnson said. “Our turnovers led to a lot of their transition and easy buckets for them. Those two things killed us tonight.”
Jack LaPointe contributed to Lutheran West’s win with eight points. Aidan Coljohn added 11 for the Blue Devils.